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Inside Republicans' troubled Election Day operations

As President Trump unsuccessfully argues fraudulent voter claims, campaign operatives tell Axios the reality is the joint EDO (Election Day operations) by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee left them feeling largely unprepared to challenge ballots in real time.

Why it matters: With several states moving toward certifying election results this week, the postmortems are beginning as political operatives try to understand what worked, what didn't and how to adjust going forward.

What we're hearing: Officials in different regions of the country describe a state-by-state patchwork — and a sense that the GOP's litigate-everything posture wasn't matched by operations robust or agile enough to mobilize properly.

  • "They claimed they had a great EDO on the ground, and that was the furthest thing from the truth," said one Trump election adviser who was in Pennsylvania the week of the election. "You have to stop fraud as it happens, not after the fact."
  • An official in the Gulf states said they repeatedly asked the campaign for more resources and were denied.
  • "The campaign fell apart after Election Day," another adviser said. "You can’t audit this in reverse. ... The infrastructure just failed."
  • In contrast, two officials in Florida told me their team had a good plan in place to combat concerns in real time and a strong EDO helped them win there.

The other side: Trump deputy campaign manager and lawyer Justin Clark tells Axios this was "the largest, most organized Election Day operation ever mounted by any campaign in the history of the Republican Party" with more than 50,000 trained volunteers nationwide.

  • "We were prepared, and anyone who says otherwise either wasn't there or is trying to make themselves seem smart by anonymously running to the press."

Be smart: Republican elections lawyer Ben Ginsberg tells Axios' Stef Kight even if the Trump campaign had better EDOs, there's no reason to assume that would have yielded any discoveries to invalidate Biden's margins.

Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.

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Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

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Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds one of the first significant actions by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Trump agency head who often skips mask tests positive for coronavirus

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of top administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

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COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

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Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

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Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped last night.

This is a breaking story and will be updated with more details.



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