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Today’s Headlines: ‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk from Marine One as they return to the White House on Dec. 31.
(Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)

On tape, President Trump is heard pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat.

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‘I Just Want to Find 11,780 Votes’

President Trump demanded that Georgia’s top election official help him “find” enough votes to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state, according to a recording of an hourlong phone call Saturday that was reported by the Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Trump cajoled, flattered and implicitly threatened Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, bringing up elaborate conspiracy theories to support his claim that he had won the state. Raffensperger, a Republican, rejected the president’s overtures, telling him: “The data that you have is wrong,” according to the audio recording. Trump cited no evidence to support his claims of widespread fraud, for which state and local election officials, and his now-departed attorney general, William P. Barr, have reported finding no evidence.

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“I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Trump said in the audio, referring to the vote divide between him and Biden.

Legal experts and some Democrats suggested the president’s actions may have violated the law. At the very least, it points to a brazen new chapter in the president’s attempt to overturn his election defeat.

On Wednesday, Congress will formalize Biden’s 306-232 electoral college victory over Trump, but scores of Republican House members and at least a dozen GOP senators have said they would object to the results. Trump has also called on his supporters to demonstrate in Washington, D.C., that day, which has led to fears of unrest, especially after Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert suggested that “violence in the streets” may be the only remaining option to block Biden from becoming president.

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Yet Republican plans to contest the election have also generated scorn from establishment GOP figures, including some Republican senators and House members. In addition, all 10 living former U.S. Defense secretaries, including James N. Mattis and Mark Esper, who served under Trump, and past GOP stalwarts Dick Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, wrote a joint op-ed in the Washington Post saying that the time to contest the election had passed and that the military had no role to play in the transfer of power.

Georgia on Their Minds, Again

Two runoff races for the U.S. Senate in Georgia on Tuesday will determine control of Congress’ upper chamber.

If Republicans win even one of the races, they keep the Senate majority. If Democrats win both, they will seize control of a 50-50 Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes. Hanging in the balance is Biden’s ability to pass legislation and to win Senate confirmation of administration officials and judges.

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Early election data reveal voters in the state’s Democratic strongholds have shown up in force while turnout in some Trump-supporting areas is lagging.

Trump is slated to hold a rally in the blue-collar town of Dalton today for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, while Biden will be at an Atlanta campaign event for their Democratic rivals Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

More Politics

Nancy Pelosi has been narrowly reelected as speaker of the House. She will have to wrangle the discordant portions of her caucus, which faces a burgeoning intraparty battle between moderates and progressives over how best to govern.

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— The Senate voted Friday to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, marking the first override of his presidency.

Biden’s inauguration will include a “virtual parade across America,” consistent with crowd limits during the coronavirus era, organizers announced.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

The Surge Is Real

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As the U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpassed 350,000 on Sunday, Trump claimed the country’s fatality count toll was “far exaggerated,” an assertion that was quickly refuted by the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert. “The deaths are real deaths,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an ABC interview. “That’s not fake.”

In Los Angeles County, now a national hot spot of the coronavirus crisis, the statistics are hard to process. A person is dying every 10 minutes. And Mayor Eric Garcetti said a person is getting infected every six seconds.

Workplaces remain an area of growing concern, amid new outbreaks at retail establishments as well as other businesses deemed essential. And the groups getting hardest hit by the virus are people who live in crowded conditions and who must work.

Meanwhile, many hospitals across Southern California are operating at peak capacity and are concerned about an even larger surge after Christmas and New Year’s gatherings.

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More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— In L.A. County, the Army Corps of Engineers was planning to send specialized crews to update oxygen-delivery systems at a handful of aging hospitals.

— In L.A., there’s been a sudden surge in the spread of COVID-19 through the homeless shelter system. Infections of homeless people doubled in the week after Thanksgiving and have since continued to climb sharply.

— After a record number of coronavirus cases in Manhattan Beach, the city has closed outdoor public seating areas.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— How will California’s new laws affect you? Here’s our quick guide, plus a special look at new workplace laws.

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— The U.S. finally has a system to prevent deadly rail accidents, but it took 50 years to implement.

— These “rogue” L.A. County sheriff’s deputies were fired. So how did the Jump Out Boys win back their badges?

— If you sue a cop for excessive force in L.A., you could be in for a wild ride.

— This tech whiz believes he got COVID-19 because an employer he worked closely with had tested positive but didn’t tell him, and still came to the office.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1914, The Times published an article about the closing Christmas festivities held the day before at the Plaza Church, a historic Catholic church in downtown Los Angeles.

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The paper reported that about 2,000 children of Mexican descent received presents and candy: “Santa Claus was on hand in regulation red and white. The good old saint was personified by Jose E. Villasenor. Father Michael gave an address to the children on ‘The Babe of Bethlehem,’ and under the direction of Father Diego the children sang.”

Jan. 3, 1914: Gifts for 2,000 Mexican American children are spread out at the rectory at Plaza Church in Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

San Francisco is struggling to deal with an increase in opioid overdoses and drug abuse.

Kevin Faulconer, the former Republican mayor of San Diego, said he had signed a petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. Faulconer told the San Diego Union-Tribune last month that he is considering his own run for governor.

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— Plunging enrollment and hobbled fundraising threaten the future of many schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Pandemic-induced family hardships and financial strain have accelerated the decline.

Susan Hansch, the longtime second-in-command of the California Coastal Commission, is finally moving on.

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NATION-WORLD

— A pastor was killed and two people were injured in a shooting at an east Texas church after the pastor confronted a man who had hidden from police in the church overnight, a local sheriff said. The pastor drew a gun, but the man grabbed the weapon and began shooting with it.

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— British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that stricter lockdown restrictions in England are likely in the coming weeks as the country reels from a new coronavirus strain that has pushed infection rates to their highest recorded levels.

— A British judge Monday rejected the United States’ request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges, saying he was likely to kill himself if held under harsh U.S. prison conditions.

— Thousands of Iraqis converged on a landmark central square in Baghdad to commemorate the anniversary of the killing of powerful Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani and a top Iraqi militia leader in a U.S. drone strike.

— An official in Pakistan said gunmen opened fire on a group of minority Shiite Hazara coal miners after abducting them, killing 11 in southwestern Baluchistan province. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

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HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

David Spade knows he’s not America’s No. 1 star. He’s found other ways to survive, including as a talk show host.

Tamlyn Tomita reprised her “Karate Kid” role for Netflix’s nostalgia-fueled hit series “Cobra Kai,” but she had some ground rules for how her native Okinawa is depicted.

— Longtime actor and writer Leslie Jordan has reached the height of his fame at 65 — as an unexpected Instagram star.

— Why TikTok’s “Ratatouille” experiment is the future of musical theater.

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BUSINESS

U.S. airlines boast layers of protocols intended to protect passengers from the coronavirus, but visibly ill people still are getting onto planes, without much repercussion.

— Wall Street can now bet on the price of California water. Here’s what the market can do — and perhaps more important, not do — columnist Michael Hiltzik writes.

SPORTS

— Quarterback John Wolford got things done for the Rams in their playoff-clinching win over the Cardinals.

—The Chargers ended their season by earning a morale-boosting win over the Chiefs, but will coach Anthony Lynn keep his job?

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OPINION

— As tempting as it will be to ignore him, Trump will probably make news after leaving office, columnist Doyle McManus writes.

— Fewer racehorses are dying — but that’s still too many, The Times’ editorial board writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— The wine business in Calais, France, is hurting now that British citizens are no longer going there in droves because of the coronavirus and Brexit. (Bloomberg)

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— Three mathematicians we lost in 2020. (The New Yorker)

ONLY IN L.A.

In East Los Angeles stands a towering tree on the corner of Folsom and Indiana streets. Its nickname: “El Pino” — the Pine. It became famous in the 1993 film “Blood In, Blood Out” and serves as a kind of international ambassador for the area. So when a Facebook and Instagram account devoted to the movie made a joke by saying the tree would be cut down to make way for development, outrage ensued and people traveled to pay what they thought would be their last respects.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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