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On the roster: Nuggets to sanitize your gobbler by – Time Out: The Wonder (Bread) of it all Georgia to certify election for Biden – Biden huddles with Pelosi, Schumer – Holy See, indeed

NUGGETS TO SANITIZE YOUR GOBBLER BY
You’re probably busy basting your turkey with Purell or feeling guilty about being so glad that you don’t have to have dinner next week with whichever of your relatives annoy you the most.

It is, after a wait of many years, finally a relatively slow news time. There are huge stories, yes, but not much in the way of exciting developments. We’re all just waiting now for a new Congress and a new president to take office, or at least get their bearings straight so we know which way they are going to go.

We are reminded these days of the story about the famous author who received an unsolicited manuscript from an aspiring novelist. The great man wrote back to this effect: “I have received your manuscript and it is both original and good. Unfortunately, the parts that are good are not original and the parts that are original are not good.”

That’s how it is these days as we tell the same stories about a virus rampaging through the nation and an administration in meltdown after an electoral defeat. It’s too bad, but it being Friday, perhaps we could look about a bit for some news nuggets to distract us.

Happy birthday Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., born on this day in 1942… now, if only we could remember in which working-class Pennsylvania city he was born. At 78 years and 61 days upon inauguration, Biden will be the oldest person to ever serve as president – 77 days older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office. It’s funny to think about how perceptions of age have changed as Baby Boomers have gotten older. Many of the 80 million Americans or so who voted for Biden this year were the same ones scoffing in 1980 that someone as ancient as 69 years of age could actually become president.

It would seem that the outgoing administration is cooking up a doozy of a birthday present for Biden. As we talked about on Thursday, the world is waiting to see how far President Trump will go to hobble Biden before the 46th president takes office. We were talking about questions surrounding a long-term federal spending package, trimmed with some coronavirus themed goodies. But just after we published, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Treasury Department is cutting off short-term business loans and other corona relief measures deemed essential by the Federal Reserve and other economists. As one market analyst put it, “Mnuchin decides to quit and take his toys with him. Wow.” If you thought the Clintonistas popping the “W” keys out of their White House computers was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

You’ll read below about the grinding march toward election certification, but suffice it to say that things are not going the way the president and his legal team would like. They still insist, however, that there is a “path to victory.” That path winds through the White House today as the president will try to persuade Michigan Republican legislative leaders to overturn the results of the state’s election. Even if they were willing, it seems unlikely that they can convince a large enough number of their fellows into such an audacious act – especially given an inevitable veto from the state’s Democratic governor. But think about this: Even if Trump could convince Republican legislators in enough states to hand him the election, does he think that the House would actually accept the electors? And even if they did, would he really like to attempt a second term having used political chicanery to reverse the election’s outcome? Sounds like bar talk to us. 

Whenever Trump tires of his gambit or reaches the point where Republicans are willing to rupture their party to stop the damage, there will still be a Trump dynasty to think of. None of his four adult children seem like likely heirs to his political legacy given their struggles during his administration or the skepticism with which major donors and party elders would view them. His daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, though seems to be a genuine political talent. She has managed to avoid the pitfalls that ensnared other Trumps while still showing absolute obedience to her father-in-law’s mercurial messaging. Friends of the first daughter in law tell the NYT that she is looking at the North Carolina Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr. She’s a native North Carolinian and would immediately box out other nationalist candidates with her famous name and funding sources. Sorry Mark Meadows.

Speaking of future political ambitions, Vice President Mike Pence is in swing-state Georgia to rally Republicans behind the state’s two endangered senators. Pence will visit Canton and Gainesville in ruby-red North Georgia where he will urge his fellow Republicans to “save the Republican majority.” Pence has done an impressive job of seeming to be the vice president from an alternate universe. Just think about Pence’s comments after Trump’s post-election rambling rant about massive fraud and theft. Pence didn’t echo Trump’s claims and instead made the kind of remarks a candidate would after a close election. Pence is indeed one of the few Republicans who can make a credible claim that he could retain a healthy chunk of the nationalists and populists of the Trump wing while shoring up the conservatives and moderates that Trump himself turned off. Pence is easy to overlook, but the cast of thousands lining up for a 2024 primary field will underestimate him at their peril.

THE RULEBOOK: HANDLE WITH CARE
“The power of making treaties is an important one, especially as it relates to war, peace, and commerce; and it should not be delegated but in such a mode, and with such precautions, as will afford the highest security that it will be exercised by men the best qualified for the purpose, and in the manner most conducive to the public good.” – John Jay, writing about the powers of the Senate, Federalist No. 64

TIME OUT: THE WONDER (BREAD) OF IT ALL
A brief, beautiful culinary memoir from food writer Nicole Johnson. Bon Appétit: “My mother was a drug addict. She ran off to California with a boyfriend when I was a baby. A few years later, she died in her apartment in Van Nuys of a drug overdose. My older brother and I were raised by my grandparents and our foster mother, Esther. Time was divided between the middle-class neighborhood just north of Boston where my grandparents lived and my foster mother’s apartment in a housing project just up the hill. It was in the time spent between those two homes that I learned the differences between the haves and the have-nots, and nowhere was this more apparent than in the kitchen. … What my grandmother didn’t know was that I liked meals at Esther’s more. Unlike my grandmother, who felt obliged to cook, Esther relished the time we spent mixing up ingredients in a large, chipped plaster bowl, putting meals together…”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

GOT A WILD PITCH? READY TO THROW A FASTBALL?
We’ve brought “From the Bleachers” to video on demand thanks to Fox Nation. Each Wednesday and Friday, Producer Brianna McClelland will put Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt to the test with your questions on everything about politics, government and American history – plus whatever else is on your mind. Sign up for the Fox Nation streaming service here and send your best questions to HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM.

GEORGIA TO CERTIFY ELECTION FOR BIDEN
AP: “Georgia’s top elections official said Friday that he will certify that Joe Biden won the state’s presidential election after a hand tally stemming from a mandatory audit affirmed the Democrat’s lead over Republican President Donald Trump. The hand count affirmed Biden won by more than 12,000 votes out of about 5 million cast, according to data released by Raffensperger’s office Thursday. ‘Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,’ Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol. ‘As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct. The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or of courts or of either campaign.’ State law requires Raffensperger to certify the election results by 5 p.m. Friday. Then, Gov. Brian Kemp has until 5 p.m. Saturday to certify the state’s slate of 16 presidential electors.”

Meanwhile Republicans fall deeper into deeper infighting – AJC: “Now, a state party already riven by the rivalry between U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins for much of the year is plunged into deeper infighting ahead of Jan. 5 runoffs to decide control of the U.S. Senate. This conflict has bloodied the state’s top elections official, who has gone from a low-profile GOP figure whose name most Georgians could hardly pronounce a few weeks ago to a human litmus test on politics in the Trump-era. To some, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is a hero for defending the integrity of a vote that featured no widespread fraud. To others who believe Trump’s claims, he’s an easy target of derision, the man who allowed the election to be rigged for Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia. The latter view has drawn top Georgia Republicans, who have fixated on Trump’s false narrative that the election was stolen.”

BIDEN HUDDLES WITH PELOSI, SCHUMER
AP: “President-elect Joe Biden is set to hold his first in-person meeting since winning the election with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Friday. The incoming Democratic president will host the top Democrats in the House and Senate at his makeshift transition headquarters in a downtown Wilmington, Delaware, theater. Their discussion is expected to be private, although the immediate challenges they face are no secret. The new governing team is already facing intense pressure to approve another COVID-19 relief bill, come up with a clear plan to distribute millions of doses of a prospective vaccine, and Biden is just days away from unveiling the first of his Cabinet picks, which are subject to Senate confirmation.”

House Dems demand briefing from GSA chief – Politico: “Four senior House Democrats are demanding that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy brief them Monday on the reason she has yet to ascertain Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, warning that her answers will determine whether they intend to haul her to Capitol Hill for a public hearing, along with other senior General Services Administration officials. ‘We have been extremely patient, but we can wait no longer,’ said House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, in a four-page letter joined by Reps. Gerry Connolly and Mike Quigley. Biden’s team can’t begin accessing federal resources to aid the transition until Murphy makes an official ‘ascertainment’ of his victory, a relatively routine step based on the unofficial but clear results of a presidential election. As Trump has contested the election results, Murphy has withheld a decision despite enormous pressure from Democrats to begin the process.”

Drug giant Pfizer seeks approval for December vaccine launch – AP: “Pfizer said [today] it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month and eventually an end to the pandemic — but not until after a long, hard winter. The action comes days after Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study. The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete. In addition to Friday’s FDA submission, they have already started ‘rolling’ applications in Europe and the U.K. and intend to submit similar information soon.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Twin N.Y. probes target Trump write offs NYT

Trump to announce feds will peg prescription costs to single-payer nations – WSJ

Trump’s bid to exclude illegal immigrants from Census may be done by demand for fast finish – Roll Call

AUDIBLE: DRIP, DRIP, DRIP
“Democracy dyes in darkness.” – Robert A. George, from Bloomberg Opinion, tweeted with a photo of Rudy Giuliani’s hair dye dripping down his face.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Tune in this weekend as Mr. Sunday sits down with Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield and Dr. Tom Inglesby from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

HOLY SEE, INDEED
Guardian: “The Vatican said it was seeking explanations from Instagram after Pope Francis’s official account liked a photo of a scantily dressed Brazilian model. It is unclear when the photo of Natalia Garibotto was given an endorsement by the pope’s verified account, but the ‘like’ was still visible on 13 November before being unliked the next day, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA). COY Co, Garibotto’s management company, made the most of the publicity and reposted the image on its own Instagram account last Friday saying the company had ‘received the POPE’S OFFICIAL BLESSING’. Garibotto, who has 2.4 million Instagram followers, is also reported to have joked: ‘At least I’m going to heaven.’ Citing sources close to the Vatican’s press office, CNA said an investigation was under way to determine how the photo came to be liked. A team of people manage the pope’s various social media accounts.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“For those three months of endless summer, Marcel and I were inseparable, vagabond brothers shuttling endlessly on our Schwinns from beach to beach, ballgame to ballgame.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing about his brother, Marcel, in the Washington Post on Jan. 27, 2006.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.



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