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Biden Considers Ferguson, Deese to Lead His Economic Council

President-elect Joe Biden is considering Roger Ferguson, a former Federal Reserve vice chair, and Brian Deese, an executive at BlackRock Inc., to be his top White House economic adviser, according to people familiar with the matter.

If selected, Ferguson, now the chief executive of TIAA, would become the first African-American in the role of director of the National Economic Council, a prime position to guide the president on the direction of policy making.

Deese, who was hired by BlackRock in 2017 to oversee its sustainable investment strategies, was a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on climate, conservation and energy.

The Biden transition declined to comment on Wednesday night. The people who discussed the two candidates did so on condition of anonymity because no decision has been made.

The economic post is currently held in the Trump administration by Larry Kudlow. CNBC reported earlier that Ferguson was under consideration. Politico reported earlier on Deese being a candidate.

Progressive groups might be critical of Deese’s selection because of the lack of racial diversity on Biden’s economic team, and his connection to Wall Street. Both Deese and Janet Yellen, his choice for Treasury secretary, are White. But his supporters point to his championing of sustainability in the private sector.

Ferguson, 69, was vice chairman of the Fed’s Board of Governors from 1999 to 2006, the first Black person to hold that post. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, then Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was overseas and deputized Ferguson to carry out what was essentially the central bank’s war plan for market crises.

He has spent about 12 years as the chief executive of TIAA, arriving there from the reinsurance company Swiss Re AG, where he headed financial services. He steered TIAA through the 2008 financial crisis.

The organization oversaw $1.2 trillion as of Sept. 30, including the retirement savings of many Americans. That’s up from about $435 billion when Ferguson was chosen to run it in 2008. TIAA announced last week that Ferguson will retire at the end of March.

He is a board member at Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent, and General Mills Inc.

Ferguson, a native of the District of Columbia, is the son of a public school teacher and a U.S. Army cartographer.

He has said that Andrew Brimmer, the first Black governor of the Fed, inspired his career. Brimmer was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, when Ferguson was a teenager.

Deese worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign and joined his administration in 2009, according to a White House biography. He was part of the task force charged with restructuring the automobile industry and later became deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Biden is assembling his cabinet even as President Donald Trump refuses to concede the Nov. 3 election. On Tuesday, the president-elect announced nominees for several national-security posts including secretary of state. Next week, he plans to introduce members of his economic team, likely including Yellen, a former Fed chair, as his nominee for Treasury secretary.

— With assistance by Annie Massa

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'Useful Idiots' With Ryan McMahon and Jon Thompson of the 'Thunder Bay' Podcast

In the latest socially distanced episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Ryan McMahon and Jon Thompson of the Thunder Bay podcast.

For “Democrats Suck,” Katie dives into former President Barack Obama’s new best-selling memoir A Promised Land, particularly the section in which Obama laments overseeing the deaths of people that he asserts he had actually wanted to help.

“Yeah, he wrote that,” says Katie.

“That takes some stones to write that, I have to say. I’m very impressed,” responds Matt.

For “Republicans Suck,” Matt shows his exhaustion with the Trump administration, citing yet another failed attempt by President Donald Trump to swing the November election to his favor.

“I can’t keep track of all the legal challenges, it’s like fractals or something, it’s gone beyond my ability to follow,” says Matt. “It was funny: There was an element of humor to Trump’s absurdities when he was somehow winning. But this has gotten completely ridiculous.”

Joining the show for the first time are Ryan McMahon and Jon Thompson, who are releasing season two of their acclaimed Thunder Bay, a true crime podcast about the the deaths of indigenous youth in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

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Climate Groups Prod Biden to Bolster Kerry by Declaring Crisis

Progressive environmentalists are mounting a long-shot bid to get President-elect Joe Biden to go beyond naming a climate czar and declare an environmental national emergency, borrowing a tactic employed by President Donald Trump to fund part of his border wall.

Invoking a climate emergency could give Biden the authority to circumvent Congress and fund clean energy projects, shut down crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling and curtail the movement of fossil fuels on pipelines, trains, and ships, according to a research note by consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners.

$69.​9B Renewable power investment worldwide in Q2 2020

50,​820 Million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, most recent annual data

Bishkek, KyrgyzstanMost polluted air today, in sensor range 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 5 4 3 2 1 .0 1 0 9 8 7 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 5 4 3 2 1 0 9 8 7 6 5 0 9 8 7 6 5 0 1 0 9 8 7 Parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere -14.​52% Today’s arctic ice area vs. historic average +0.​85° C Oct. 2020 increase in global temperature vs. 1900s average

“The president’s powers to address climate change through an emergency are very, very large,” said Kassie Siegel, an attorney with the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, which is lobbying Biden’s team to act. “This is No. 1 on the list of things the Biden administration should do.”

In a statement, Biden’s transition team didn’t explicitly address the question of a climate emergency, saying only that he plans to follow through on his policy platform to fight the climate crisis while creating millions of jobs. Biden’s climate platform includes no mention of declaring a climate emergency.

The national emergency question could be an early potential source of tension between climate groups and Biden. It signals the tough fights ahead for the new president, as he walks a line between satisfying activists who backed his campaign and not promoting measures that would draw opposition from more moderate Democrats.

Many environmentalists were pleased to see Biden this week name former Secretary of State John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate, fulfilling the campaign promise to elevate the issue of global warming to the highest levels of the White House.

“In addressing the climate crisis, President-elect Joe Biden is determined to seize the future now and leave a healing planet to future generations,” Kerry said Tuesday after being introduced as part of Biden’s national security team.

Yet progressives want his administration to go further. They see the emergency declaration as a way to achieve his ambitious climate agenda, even if legislation is blocked by a Senate potentially controlled by Republicans. But such a move may fall victim to the political realities left by the election.

“Declaring a climate emergency will radicalize climate protection, alienating the very moderate Senators needed to pass infrastructure and other bills with carbon-reducing provisions,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former climate official in the Clinton White House, now with the Progressive Policy Institute. “Why would Biden borrow from Trump’s polarizing playbook, when Biden’s trying to actually unite the country to act on climate?”

While Biden has vowed to decarbonize the electricity sector by 2035 as part of a goal to reach zero net emissions by 2050, many elements of his plan would require Congress to act. And other policy shifts he promised, such as halting fracking on federal land, would have to go through a cumbersome, slow-moving regulatory process that complicated some of Trump’s own ambitions.

That may not be good enough for progressive environmentalists who say they are counting on Biden to follow through on campaign rhetoric that appealed to climate-minded voters, such as calling global warming “an existential threat to humanity.”

Greenpeace, along with the Center for Biological Diversity and groups like Friends of the Earth, were among 500 organizations that called for the next president to declare a national climate emergency last December. Two candidates who sought the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer, vowed on the campaign trail to declare climate change a national emergency.

What a State of Emergency Might Do for Trump’s Wall: QuickTake

Some are skeptical that Biden will declare a climate emergency given the election results and deepening crises with coronavirus and the economy — at least not until the end of his presidency. Possible actions Biden could take under an emergency declaration — such as suspending offshore drilling or trying to shutdown pipelines — would almost certainly be held up in lengthy court battles brought by opponents. While the Trump administration was similarly challenged over its diversion of funds for the border wall, it ultimately prevailed at the Supreme Court.

“It would be a pretty egregious sign of weakness right out of the gate; an acknowledgment that legislative and regulatory regular order were destined to fail,” said Mike McKenna, who previously served in Trump’s White House as deputy assistant to the president. “That strikes me as something that might happen in year three or year four, as part of an effort to goose the re-elect, or the election, of whoever is running.”

Trump declared a national emergency in February 2019, a move that allowed him to divert some $3.5 billion to start construction on the wall along the southern border after Congress refused to appropriate the funding. The move drew criticism from members of his own party, such as Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who said he was “overstepping into the legislative prerogative.”

Supporters of the move note that presidents have used emergency declarations in the past, which are designed to give the executive branch special, temporary powers to deal with a crisis, and dozens of active national emergencies remain.

“The border wall declaration completely re-conceptualizes what constitutes an emergency — and that genie never goes back in the bottle,” said Benjamin Salisbury, a senior policy analyst at Height LLC.

— With assistance by Jennifer A Dlouhy

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Biden Pick Antony Blinken Recalls Stepfather’s Holocaust Escape

Antony Blinken spoke of his stepfather’s chilling experience during World War II while accepting President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination to be secretary of state this week. 

Biden introduced Blinken, along with his other choices for top Cabinet posts, at a Wilmington, Delaware, event Tuesday. In a short speech that followed, Blinken shared how several generations of his Jewish family had come to view the U.S. as “the last best hope on earth.” 

During the remarks, the 58-year-old New York native singled out stepfather Samuel Pisar, who was “one of 900 children in his school in Bialystok, Poland, but the only one to survive the Holocaust after four years in concentration camps.” 

He went on to recall Pisar’s harrowing escape from a death march in Nazi-controlled Germany, after which the young boy was rescued by a Black U.S. soldier. 

Just before being lifted onto a tank by the soldier, Pisar “fell to his knees, and said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him before the war: ‘God bless America,’” Blinken said. 

“That’s who we are,” he continued. “That’s what America represents to the world, however imperfectly.”  

As an adult, Pisar became an adviser on foreign economic policy to President John F. Kennedy, and recalled his wartime adolescence in the 1979 memoir, “Of Blood and Hope.” He died in 2015 at age 86. 

Biden’s nomination of Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under former President Barack Obama, signals a marked reversal of the Trump administration’s “America First” worldview. 

Foreign policy experts say Blinken will guide the country toward rejoining many of the international agreements abandoned during President Donald Trump’s tenure, notably the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal.

His appointment now awaits Senate approval. 

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GSA offers to brief lawmakers on Biden transition next week; Emily Murphy won't host

  • The agency withholding funding from President-elect Joe Biden's transition said it is willing to grant House Democrats' requests for a briefing.
  • But the head of that agency, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, will not be leading that briefing, despite the demand from House Committee chairs that she "personally" explain herself.
  • Rather, Deputy Administrator Allison Brigati will "host a 30 minute briefing on Monday, November 30" — a week later than Democrats had asked for.
  • The Democrats appeared to reject the offer, demanding instead that Murphy brief them by Tuesday.

The federal agency that is withholding funding from President-elect Joe Biden's transition by refusing to "ascertain" his victory over President Donald Trump said Monday that it is willing to grant House Democrats' requests for a briefing.

But the head of that agency, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, will not be leading that briefing, despite the demand from House Committee chairs that she "personally" explain herself.

Rather, a GSA spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC that Deputy Administrator Allison Brigati will "host a 30 minute briefing on Monday, November 30" — a week later than Democrats had asked for in a frustrated joint letter sent to Murphy last Thursday.

The spokesperson also said that GSA will host another, "in-person-only" briefing for staff on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

In a response released Monday afternoon, the Democrats appeared to reject the offer, demanding instead that Murphy brief them by Tuesday.

"We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination," they wrote in their latest letter.

"Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris Administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation's dire economic crisis, and our national security."

Under the law, Murphy has the power to free up millions of dollars that are allocated toward presidential transition spending. The transition can avail itself of those funds only after Murphy ascertains the winner of the election.

News outlets have called the election for Biden, who is projected to win 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232. But Trump has refused to concede the race, and instead has falsely asserted that he won. His campaign's lawyers, as well as lawyers for other supporters, have launched a flurry of lawsuits in a series of swing states, attempting — so far fruitlessly — to stop those key votes from being counted.

"Your actions in blocking transition activities required under the law are having grave effects," the Democrats wrote to Murphy in their initial letter last Thursday.

They accused the Trump appointee of "undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming Administration's ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to address our nation's dire economic crisis, and endangering our national security."

That letter, and the follow-up Monday, were signed by two House committee chairs — Oversight and Reform's Carolyn Maloney and Nita Lowey of Appropriations — as well as subcommittee leaders Gerald Connolly and Mike Quigley.

They have asked Murphy to reply to their latest request by 5 p.m. on Monday.

Earlier Monday afternoon, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal issued a scathing statement of his own.

"With your refusal to abide by the procedures established by the Presidential Transition Act, you are complicit in an unprecedented challenge to our Democratic norms and are endangering the lives and livelihoods of people across the nation," Neal wrote to Murphy.

This is developing news. Please check back for updates.

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GM Drops Support For Trump Administration Lawsuit Against California Clean-Air Standards

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors says it will no longer support the Trump administration in legal efforts to end California’s right to set its own clean-air standards.

CEO Mary Barra said in a letter Monday to environmental groups that GM will pull out of the lawsuit, and it urges other automakers to do so.

She said the company agrees with President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to expand electric vehicle use. Last week, GM said it is testing a new battery chemistry that will bring electric-vehicle costs down to those of gas-powered vehicles within five years.

Barra sent the letter after a call with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the company said.

“We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” Barra said in the letter.

Mary Nichols, the head of California’s Air Resources Board, called GM’s announcement “good news,” saying Barra told her about it in a telephone call Monday morning. The board is the state’s air pollution regulator.

“I was pleased to be in communication with Mary Barra again,” she said. “It’s been a while since we had talked.”

Dan Becker of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the environmental groups Barra wrote to, said GM was wrong in trying to stop California from protecting its people from auto pollution.

“Now the other automakers must follow GM and withdraw support for (President Donald) Trump’s attack on clean cars,” he said in an email.

Last year General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and 10 smaller automakers sided with the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the right to set its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy.

The companies said they would intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Environmental Defense Fund against the Trump administration, which has rolled back national pollution and gas mileage standards enacted while Barack Obama was president.

The group called itself the “Coalition or Sustainable Automotive Regulation” and included Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Isuzu, Suzuki, Maserati, McLaren, Aston-Martin and Ferrari.

“With our industry facing the possibility of multiple, overlapping and inconsistent standards that drive up costs and penalize consumers, we had an obligation to intervene,” John Bozzella, CEO of Global Automakers and spokesman for the coalition, said at the time.

The move put the automakers at odds with five other companies — BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo and Honda — that backed California and endorsed stricter emissions and fuel economy standards than proposed by the Trump administration.

But the coalition’s stance was not so straightforward. For instance, although it opposed California, it still wanted Trump and the state to compromise on one national regulation.

In September of 2019, Trump announced his administration would seek to revoke California’s congressionally granted authority to set standards that are stricter than those issued by federal regulators.

The move came after Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen signed a deal with the California Air Resources Board, which had been at odds with the Trump administration for months.

Many automakers have said in the past that they support increasing the standards, but not as much as those affirmed in the waning days of the Obama administration in 2016.

Under the Obama administration requirements, the fleet of new vehicles would have to average 30 mpg in real-world driving by 2021, rising to 36 mpg in 2025. Those increases would be about 5% per year. The Trump administration’s plan increased fuel economy by 1.5% per year, backing off an earlier proposal to freeze the requirements at 2021 levels.

Automakers say that because buyers are switching to larger trucks and SUVs, many companies would not be able to meet the stricter standards.

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Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, California, contributed to this story.

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Biden Allies Ask Brainard to Stay at Fed, Dimming Treasury Odds

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard has been told by allies of President-elect Joe Biden that she should stay at the central bank, according to people familiar with the matter, further dimming odds she’s chosen as the next Treasury secretary.

Brainard is the only Democrat on a Fed board filled mostly by President Donald Trump’s appointments, and she may be a leading candidate for Fed chair when Jerome Powell’s term expires in 2022.

Brainard emerged as a top contender to become the first female Treasury secretary before the election, but in recent weeks liberal figures in the Democratic party have pushed Biden to choose former Fed chair Janet Yellen for the post. Biden said last week that he had decided on his Treasury secretary but declined to say who he’d nominate.

Biden transition officials have not directly told Brainard they want her to remain at the Fed, spokesman Andrew Bates said. A Fed spokesperson declined to comment.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sparked a rare public conflict between Treasury and the Fed when he said he wouldn’t agree to extend some central bank lending programs created by the Cares Act, passed by Congress in March.

Mnuchin says the programs are no longer needed, and the money should be returned to the Treasury and put to better use elsewhere by Congress.

Brainard’s portfolio at the Fed includes overseeing those programs. That will provide some continuity in the midst of a crisis and disagreement with the Trump administration, which has refused to begin the transition process to Biden’s presidency as the president continues to challenge the election results.

Yellen would meet Biden’s description of a person acceptable across the Democratic Party, with progressives amenable to her in part because she has endorsed the idea of taxing carbon emissions to fight climate change.

Brainard was a Barack Obama appointee to the Fed, where she has served since 2014. She has a broad portfolio which includes overseeing the central bank’s pandemic-related emergency lending programs.

Two seats are already vacant at the Fed. Trump has nominated current Fed official Chris Waller to fill one of those seats. Judy Shelton earlier this month failed to proceed to a final confirmation vote. Shelton, a former Trump campaign adviser, is one of the most controversial picks for the Fed board, with many Republican lawmakers refusing to support her.

— With assistance by Jennifer Epstein

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Trump Retracts After Nearly Conceding Defeat

Within hours of admitting that Joe Biden won the presidential election, President Donald Trump retracted by saying he will continue fighting the “rigged elections.”

Trump, who was busy playing golf in the weekend even as the United States was reeling under the rising infection rate, made conflicting comments on Twitter Sunday. He initially appeared to admit for the first time publicly that Biden won, then reversed course.

In an early morning tweet, Trump said, “He (Biden) won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more.”

“He (Biden) only won in the eyes of the Fake News Media,” according to Trump. “I concede nothing! We have a long way to go. This was a Rigged Election,” he added. Twitter flagged these statements with the remark, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

Hours later, in a late night tweet, the President said: “I WON THE ELECTION!”. It was accompanied by a Twitter warning label saying: “Official sources called this election differently.”

In between these two tweets, Trump continued to post a series of statements claiming the November 3 election was rigged, and at the same time, that he won it.

He also alleged that his supporters who gathered in Washington for the “Million MAGA March” were attacked.

Several people were reportedly arrested in violence erupted during mass demonstrations by Trump supporters who urged him not to concede the election, and pro-Biden activists who claimed his victory.

“Many of the court cases being filed all over the Country are not ours, but rather those of people that have seen horrible abuses. Our big cases showing the unconstitutionality of the 2020 Election, & the outrage of things that were done to change the outcome, will soon be filed,” Trump tweeted.

He mounted the attack on media. “Why does the Fake News Media continuously assume that Joe Biden will ascend to the Presidency, not even allowing our side to show, which we are just getting ready to do, how badly shattered and violated our great Constitution has been in the 2020 Election. It was attacked perhaps like never before! From large numbers of Poll Watchers that were thrown out of vote counting rooms in many of our States, to millions of ballots that have been altered by Democrats, only for Democrats, to voting after the Election was over, to using Radical Left owned Dominion Voting Systems, turned down by Texas and many others because it was not good or secure. Those responsible for the safeguarding of our Constitution cannot allow the Fake results of the 2020 Mail-In Election to stand. The World is watching.”

Twitter tagged this with the remark, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, under the Department of Homeland Security Agency, had certified in a statement issued last week that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was the “most secure in American history.”

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” said the agency, which is tasked with ensuring secure elections.

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Facebook is reportedly planning to woo Joe Biden by rolling out new vaccine and climate change features

  • Facebook is building a strategy to help get on President-elect Joe Biden's good side, company sources told the Financial Times.
  • Facebook is reportedly planning to crack down harder on COVID-19 misinformation, and is considering adding an information banner to its site encouraging users to get vaccinated.
  • Facebook is also reportedly looking at ways to encourage users to engage with content about the Paris Climate Agreement, which Biden has pledged to rejoin. The US left the agreement in November.
  • Facebook plans to make Nick Clegg its main point of contact with Washington, the FT reported. Clegg was deputy prime minister in Britain during Biden's term as vice-president.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facebook is gearing up to woo President-elect Joe Biden by promoting vaccine and climate change information, according to a report from the Financial Times.

Citing anonymous company "insiders," the FT reports Facebook is planning to crack down harder on COVID-19 misinformation, and is considering putting a banner at the top of its site encouraging users to get vaccinated once a vaccine is approved.

It will also encourage users to engage with content related to climate change, specifically the Paris Climate Agreement, which Biden has pledged to rejoin. President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Agreement in 2017, but the move was only made official in November of this year.

Facebook reportedly hopes its head of comms and global affairs Nick Clegg will be its main point of contact with Washington. Clegg is seen as having sway because Clegg was deputy prime minister under Britain's coalition government between 2010 and 2015, when Biden was vice-president.

One anonymous senior Facebook employee told the FT the company views Clegg as its best shot for lobbying the Biden administration.

"A lot of the Democrats simply hate Facebook right now. We know Nick Clegg is not going to save us from that, but at least he will help us get a hearing," the employee said.

Facebook was not immediately available to comment on the report when contacted by Business Insider.

Read more: Big Tech should prepare for pushback from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in these 3 areas

Joe Biden's campaign team has indicated it might take a hard line on regulating Facebook. Bill Russo, a deputy communications director on Biden's campaign press team, has accused Facebook of "shredding the fabric of our democracy" by allowing misinformation to flourish on its platform after election day.

Biden himself has also expressed support for a policy that could threaten Facebook's business. In January, he told the New York Times he supported revoking Section 230, the part of US law that stops internet companies being liable for content users post to their platforms. Section 230 also allows tech companies to moderate content however they see fit.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has warned against wholesale changes to Section 230 in testimonies to congress. Most recently, on November 17 Zuckerberg said it would "make sense" for Facebook to be liable for some content on its platform, but not all.

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Biden inauguration will be 'scaled down' because of coronavirus, chief of staff says

  • President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration events are likely to look different from past years in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, his chief of staff said on Sunday.
  • The former vice president's inauguration is scheduled to take place amid a surge in infections across the country.
  • The change-up to the quadrennial tradition is an illustration of Biden's dramatically different approach to containing the virus from that taken by President Donald Trump.

President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration events are likely to look different from past years in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, his chief of staff said on Sunday.

Ron Klain said on ABC's "This Week" that the Jan. 20 event is likely to feature "scaled down versions of the existing traditions" and may borrow from the techniques that were used to put on the virtual Democratic National Convention over the summer.

"I think it's going to definitely have to be changed," Klain said. "We've started some consultations with House and Senate leadership on that. Obviously this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we've had in the past."

The former vice president's inauguration is scheduled to take place amid a surge in infections across the country. The U.S. reported nearly 200,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and more than 177,000 new cases on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Well over 1,000 people are dying a day from Covid-19.

The change-up to the quadrennial tradition is an illustration of Biden's dramatically different approach to containing the virus from that taken by President Donald Trump.

The Trump White House has largely shrugged off the contagious virus, including by holding indoor events in which officials did not wear masks. Trump, unlike Biden, frequently hosted large rallies during his campaign in which supporters gathered in close quarters for hours.

Researchers at Stanford said 30,000 cases of coronavirus and 700 deaths could be traced to 18 Trump rallies held between June and September.

While the president has taken a relatively lax approach to the disease, clusters of Covid-19 have emerged in his orbit. Trump himself tested positive in October and spent three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center being treated.

In all, at least 45 people connected to the White House, including Trump, first lady Melania Trump, their young son Barron Trump, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have tested positive for the virus. Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, announced a positive test result on Friday.

Klain, a longtime Biden advisor who oversaw the Obama White House's response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak, said that the approach to the inauguration would mimic Biden and Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris's cautious mode of campaigning.

"They got a lot of grief for that; they got attacked for that relentlessly by President Trump for the way in which they campaigned — safely, to try to prevent the spread of the disease," he added.

"They are going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That's our goal," Klain said.

"We know people want to celebrate. There is something here to celebrate. We just want to try to find a way to do it as safely as possible," he said.

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