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Will the Belichick of the Patriots accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

President Trump’s plan to give Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, the Presidential Medal of Freedom has raised questions about whether Belichick will accept the award after the riots on Capitol Hill.

There were calls for Belichick to decline the award, including Monday from Rep. Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, who called accepting the award “shameful.”

“Bill Belichick should do the right thing and say” No thanks ” he said CNN.

Mr. Trump, who is leaving office in less than two weeks, has long been associated with the Patriots. Prior to being elected in 2016, he regularly attended the team’s home games as a guest of Robert K. Kraft, owner of the Patriots. Belichick publicly supported the president when he ran for office and even wrote a letter to the president, who read it aloud at a campaign rally just before election day. Former team quarterback Tom Brady played golf with Trump and had a campaign cap in his locker.

But Trump’s division has repeatedly put the Patriots in a sticky position, particularly in 2017, when the president repeatedly criticized the NFL and its owners for failing to fire players who knelt while playing. the national anthem to protest against social injustice and police brutality.

The team accepted an invitation to visit the White House in 2017 after winning the Super Bowl, but before the president attacked the league. Two years later, after the Patriots won another title and many players publicly opposed the president, they did not make the trip to Washington due to what they said were scheduling conflicts. .

The team did not respond to a request for comment.

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Trump claims credit for vaccines. Some of his supporters do not want to accept them.

But Mr. Trump was notably absent. According to experts, one of the reasons for the partisan division over vaccination is the president himself. His repeated denigration of scientists and his insistence that the pandemic is not a threat, they said, have helped his supporters believe that the vaccine is not safe or worth the trouble of. To be taken.

“I just don’t think there’s been enough research on this. I think it accelerated too quickly, ”said Mark Davis, 42, a disabled worker from Michigan. “You don’t even really know the side effects, what is in it.”

Mr. Lofgren agreed. “The jury is out on whether this will work,” he said, despite studies showing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be over 94% effective.

Experts say “herd immunity” – the point to which so many people are immune that the spread of a virus is diminished – can be achieved when about 75 percent of the population is vaccinated. As the Trump administration rolls out a public relations campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated, the reluctance of even a minority of Republicans is deeply troubling to public health experts.

Mr. Trump was quick to claim credit for manufacturing and distributing the vaccine. “The distribution must begin immediately,” he said on Friday. on Twitter, a day after an FDA expert advisory panel recommended approval of Moderna’s vaccine.

Although the president has recovered from Covid-19, he remains vulnerable to reinfection. Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, recommended that Mr Trump be vaccinated. But he gave no indication that he actually would, and he said little, if anything, to encourage Americans to get vaccinated.

“We need him to play a proactive role,” said Matthew Motta, a political scientist at Oklahoma State University who studies vaccine policy and opinion, adding, “The best person to convince you to change your mind about something is someone who agrees with you. , someone you trust on other matters.

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Representative Paul Mitchell is leaving the Republican Party for his refusal to accept the loss of Trump.

Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan, a two-term Republican who voted for President Trump this year, said on Monday he would immediately sever ties with the Republican Party for his refusal to accept the president’s electoral defeat.

In a letter To senior GOP officials, Mitchell warned that elected Republicans could help Trump “do long-term damage to our democracy” by continuing to welcome and amplify baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud. He said he would become a political independent, although he was already planning to step down from Congress at the end of this year.

“It is unacceptable that political candidates treat our electoral system as if we are a third world nation and instigate distrust of something as basic as the sanctity of our vote,” he said. – he writes just after his state voted its 16 electoral votes for Mr Biden on Monday. He also denounced the Republican attacks on the Supreme Court, which on Friday dismissed a daring Texas lawsuit aimed at overturning the results in key battlefields, including Michigan.

One of the wealthiest members of Congress, Mr. Mitchell was first elected in 2016. He was a member of the Republican leadership and voted for himself in favor of the policies of the Trump administration 95% time.

But he emerged in the weeks following election day as one of Mr. Trump’s biggest criticisms, especially as lawyers for the president and his allies have made Michigan a major focus of their attempts to reverse the will of the voters.

Although other Republicans, like Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, have berated the president and his facilitators, Mr. Mitchell is the first elected member of Congress to leave the party since the election. Fellow Michigan Republican Representative Justin Amash left the party last year over concerns over Mr. Trump.

In his letter on Monday, Mr Mitchell said he supported the right of any candidate to demand recounts or challenge the results in court. But Mr. Trump and his legal team, he said, “failed to provide evidence of fraud or administrative failure on a scale large enough to impact the outcome of the election.”

“If Republican leaders collectively sit down and tolerate baseless conspiracy theories and ‘stop the theft’ of rallies without speaking out in favor of our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security has declared to be ‘the safest of the way’ American history, “our nation will be damaged,” wrote Mr. Mitchell, addressing his remarks to Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader.

He acknowledged that his own decision could be symbolic, but said it was necessary to respect his oath to protect and defend the Constitution. And, he added, “we all know symbols matter.”

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More Republicans cautiously accept loss of Trump after Electoral College votes

Support for President Trump’s attempt to reverse his electoral defeat began to crumble in the Senate on Monday after the Electoral College certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, with many senior Republicans claiming that the time had come to recognize the results had been evident for weeks.

Although they insisted that Mr. Trump could still challenge the results in court, senators said the certification should be seen as the actual conclusion of an election that has fiercely divided the country. And after weeks of silence as Mr. Trump and other members of their party sought to overturn the results in increasingly extreme ways, some urged their colleagues to move on.

“I understand there are people who are deeply convinced of the outcome of this election, but in the end, at some point, you have to face the music,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota. , Republicans No. 2, to journalists. Capitol. “And I think once the Electoral College has dealt with the matter today, it’s time for everyone to move on.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Republican of South Carolina who initially stoked Mr. Trump’s fraud allegations in major battlefield states, said he now sees only “a very, very narrow path to the President ”and had spoken with Mr. Biden and some of his likely cabinet nominees.

“I don’t see how it goes from here, given what the Supreme Court did,” he added, referring to the judges’ decision on Friday to dismiss a long-drawn Texas lawsuit seeking to cancel the results in a handful of declares that Mr. Biden won.

At a virtual event with supporters Monday night, Mr Biden expressed optimism about how Republicans would respond to him as president, and said he had already heard seven Republican senators “say they wanted to work with me ”.

The comments represented a noticeable and rapid change in a body that for weeks essentially refused to acknowledge the inevitable, even though the change was far from unanimous. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, remained blatantly silent on Monday, refusing to acknowledge Mr Biden’s victory. He devoted his only public remarks to stimulus negotiations and ignored a question about Electoral College procedure shouted by a reporter from Capitol Hill.

A small group of Republican senators congratulated Mr. Biden almost immediately in November. But a majority had gone to great lengths at rhetoric to avoid angering a president who might turn his own voters against them – even though they privately admitted he had lost.

It was unclear on Monday whether those who gave in were a harbinger of a broader shift in elected Republicans to accept Mr. Trump’s defeat, or a sign of a growing rift within the party between those who are ready. to accept reality and those – a loyal core in the Senate and the vast majority in the House – who seem ready to follow him wherever he leads.

Mr McConnell’s allies have said he will honor the election result in January, but they do not want to fight Mr Trump now for fear of damaging Republicans’ chances in two January Senate polls in Georgia who will decide on control. from the room. He also fears, they said, that it could jeopardize a series of year-end legislative priorities that will require the president’s signature, including a catch-all spending measure and the stimulus package to deal with the continuing toll. of the pandemic.

But the effect has been that the most powerful Republican on Capitol Hill has, by intention or inaction, left the insidious claims of Mr. Trump and those who support him unchecked, undermining faith in the democratic process and the legitimacy of Mr. Biden as president.

One by one Monday, many of Mr. McConnell’s closest allies, including most of his management team, began to break ranks.

“I believe he is president-elect, subject to any other pending litigation,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the former second-rank Republican, referring to Mr Biden as the winner of the election. for the first time. “I don’t know of any.”

Mr Cornyn has sought to discourage members of his own party from further challenging the election results when Congress meets in joint session in early January to count and finalize the results.

“It would be a big mistake,” he said. “I think there comes a time when you have to realize that no matter how hard you try, you haven’t been successful. That’s sort of the nature of these elections. You have to have a winner and you have to have a loser.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the longest-serving Republican, captured the reluctant acceptance of many of his colleagues after the constituency’s action to a reporter’s question whether he now considered Mr. Biden as the president-elect.

“I don’t have to do it – the Constitution does,” he said as he rushed to vote. “I respect the Constitution.”

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican who led Mr. Trump to re-election last month, has called Biden a “presumptive president,” pending the outcome of any unresolved lawsuits.

Others were more direct.

“We will deal with Vice President Biden as president-elect,” said Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, chairman of the Republican Political Committee and the Congressional committee responsible for planning next year’s inauguration.

After initially dismissing a question on Electoral College results as a “trick question”, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the third Republican leader, said he would “respect the result of the Electoral College vote today” although he was disappointed.

“The presidential election is over,” said Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a close ally of Mr. McConnell. “The states have certified the votes. The courts resolved the disputes. Voters have voted. I hope President Trump will put the country first. “

Yet many of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters did not seem ready to change course.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson was planning to call a hearing on Wednesday to publicize Mr. Trump’s claims in the halls of Congress.

This posture infuriated Democrats and even some Republicans, who again warned Monday that by arguing for Mr. Trump’s false election statements, the party was deliberately misleading voters and encouraging a threat to the Democratic process itself. .

“It is unacceptable that political candidates treat our electoral system as if we are a third world nation and instigate distrust of something as basic as the sanctity of our vote,” the representative wrote. Paul Mitchell from Michigan. in a letter to Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee; and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the party’s first House leader.

Mr Mitchell, a member of his retiring party leadership, released the letter shortly after his state voted its 16 electoral votes for Mr Biden. He wrote that he was quitting the Republican Party because of his refusal to accept Mr. Trump’s defeat and warned that his colleagues risked “long-term damage to our democracy.”

“If Republican leaders collectively sit down and tolerate baseless conspiracy theories and ‘stop the theft’ of rallies without speaking in favor of our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security has declared to be ‘the safest of the way’ American history, “our nation will be damaged,” wrote Mr. Mitchell.

Thomas kaplan contribution to reports.

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Why Trump Can’t Accept North Carolina Red Counties

The Trump campaign’s decision to send the candidate to a conservative county he is sure to win may not be a sign of strength. But it’s probably his best way to rally enough voters to win in North Carolina, where Mr. Trump’s more optimistic campaign officials believe he will get a margin of victory of less than 100,000 votes ( four years ago, Mr. Trump won the state by approximately 173,000 votes).

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With bloody votes in suburban Mecklenburg County, Mr Trump cannot afford any cracks in his support in the districts he won four years ago. In fact, he has to win bigger here.

“In a year like this, in an election like this, a point or two in a community like Gaston County could determine the statewide race,” Rep. Patrick said. McHenry, Republican of North Carolina.

Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, said a rally in Gastonia always hit the Charlotte and Asheville media markets and the party was still investing in a ground game in suburban Charlotte like Matthews. But he admitted, “We have to do better in Gaston County, just because of the number of people who have moved in.” He added, “A Gaston County vote equals a Charlotte vote.”

In Gaston County, “we’re reaching targeted voters with phone calls and door-to-door teams, and the biggest mail program we’ve ever had,” Whatley said. With up to 75 percent of the votes expected before election day, Whatley also noted that the state party had moved its mail schedule earlier. “We are going after the targeted voters out there, making sure they know about advance voting and how to do it.” The party had 200,000 electoral contacts in Gaston County. “We have spent a lot of time working these counties very aggressively,” he said.

J. Michael Bitzer, professor of American politics at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, said he had seen nothing of the Trump campaign that would indicate his hopes for victory in the state rest on converting more voters in urban suburbs than Hillary Clinton won four years ago by one percentage point. “The way I look at this race is what the shift is from these urban suburbs to Biden and what the Republican margins are in these surrounding suburban areas,” he said.