Donald Trump says his lawyer and former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, has tested positive to coronavirus.
Mr Giuliani has travelled extensively to battleground states in recent weeks, with his son Andrew also recently testing positive.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senate nominee Jon Ossoff has engaged in a debate with an empty lectern after his incumbent opponent declined to participate and Joe Biden has selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary.
Monday’s key updates
Giuliani tests positive for COVID-19: Trump
Former New York mayor and Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, 76, has tested positive for coronavirus, Mr Trump has revealed on Twitter.
The US President posted on social media on Sunday afternoon (local time) to wish Mr Giuliani the best, just hours after Mr Giuliani appeared on Fox News to discuss election legal challenges.
“@RudyGiuliani, by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, and who has been working tirelessly exposing the most corrupt election (by far!) in the history of the USA, has tested positive for the China Virus,” Mr Trump said.
“Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!”
The President’s use of the term “China virus” has drawn significant backlash throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Fox News said Mr Giuliani “appeared well” while appearing on the program Sunday Morning Futures, less than five hours before Mr Trump’s tweet confirming his diagnosis.
He was not present in the studio with Maria Bartiromo during the interview.
Mr Giuliani has been travelling around the country to lead Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss through legal challenges.
Mr Trump still has not formally conceded defeat to the president-elect, and continues to assert widespread fraud repeatedly and without evidence.
COVID-19’s White House sweep continues
Rudy Giuliani is of course not the first key White House staffer to test positive for COVID-19 — it’s been just two months since Donald Trump himself did a stint in hospital while being treated for the virus.
Multiple administration officials and others in Mr Trump’s close circles have also caught the virus since, including:
- Close advisor to the President Hope Hicks
- White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany
- Donald Trump’s senior adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller
- Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel
- Head of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ron Johnson
- Senate Judiciary Committee members Thom Tillis and Mike Lee
- Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien
- Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
- Former counsellor to Mr Trump Kellyanne Conway
- One of Mr Trump’s personal assistants Nicholas Luna
Giuliani’s son thanks supporters for well-wishes
Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew, who also tested positive for COVID-19 last week, has tweeted a message of thanks after the news of his father’s infection.
“My Dad @RudyGiuliani is resting, getting great care and feeling well,” the tweet read.
“Thank you to all the friends who have reached out concerned about his wellbeing.”
Supporters have flocked to social media to post messages of support for the former mayor, but others have noted Mr Giuliani’s alleged lack of COVID-19 prevention measures recently.
State legislature to close after Giuliani visit
The Arizona state legislature says it will close both chambers after Rudy Giuliani visited the chambers earlier this week urging authorities to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory.
“In accordance with the Public Health Emergency, all House Committees will be suspended until further notice,” the Arizona state legislature website says.
Reuters reports that Mr Giuliani met with about a dozen Republicans there last week — the state legislature said it would close its doors out of caution “for recent cases and concerns relating to COVID-19”.
Arizona’s House of Representatives Speaker, Rusty Bowers, released a statement on Friday after Mr Giuliani’s calls for the Arizona Legislature to overturn the certified election results and redistribute their electoral college votes to Donald Trump, saying “the rule of law forbids us to do that”.
“Mr Giuliani and Ms [fellow Trump lawyer Jenna] Ellis made their case here at least twice — on Monday, at an unofficial public gathering hosted by a small group of legislators; and again on Tuesday, during a closed-door meeting at the State Capitol with Republican leaders from both chambers of the legislature,” Mr Bowers’ statement read.
Mr Bowers said even if there was evidence of voter fraud, “the Arizona Legislature simply couldn’t do what is being asked” under the state’s constitution.
“As a conservative Republican, I don’t like the results of the presidential election. I voted for President Trump and worked hard to re-elect him,” Mr Bowers said.
Mr Giuliani was in Georgia on Thursday and Michigan on Wednesday last week, making similar pleas for authorities to intervene in election results.
Biden selects nominee to lead Health and Human Services
Joe Biden has chosen former congressman and California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the COVID-19 pandemic response as health and human services secretary, according to AP sources and US media including the New York Times.
If confirmed by the Senate, the 62-year-old will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.
Mr Becerra has led the coalition of Democratic states defending Obamacare from the Trump administration’s latest effort to overturn it, a legal case awaiting a Supreme Court decision next year.
The New York Times reports that Mr Becerra was somewhat of a surprise pick for the role.
Mr Becerra served for more than a decade in Congress before he became California’s Attorney General, and also served in the California state assembly after attending law school at Stanford.
His appointment comes after Mr Biden faced criticism from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, among others, over a lack of diversity in his Cabinet picks.
More key Biden administration roles to be announced soon
Joe Biden is expected to announce his full health team this week, after the announcement that Xavier Becerra is set to to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mr Biden has reportedly told National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, who was a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus taskforce, to stay on as chief medical adviser — a decision he committed to throughout his presidential campaign.
Physician, former surgeon general and co-chairman of Mr Biden’s advisory board dealing with the pandemic Vivek Murthy is set to return as surgeon general after his first stint in the role from 2014 to 2017.
Economic adviser Jeff Zients has also been tasked with overseeing the US’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution operation.
A source told Reuters that Mr Biden is also expected to nominate Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to run the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Operation Warp Speed boss ‘confident’ in mask, vaccine plans
The US Government’s Operation Warp Speed chief advisor Moncef Slaoui said Joe Biden’s request for Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of his presidency was a “good idea.”
Speaking on CBS program Face the Nation on the weekend, Mr Slaoui said it wasn’t too late for the US to make more of an effort to control the virus.
“This pandemic is ravaging the country. We all need to take our precautions, have our masks, wash our hands, keep our distance, remain aware that this virus is the killer,” he said.
Mr Slaoui told Face the Nation that he’s looking forward to meeting president-elect Joe Biden this week to discuss plans to distribute a coronavirus vaccine.
“I’m confident that together, we will do the best we can to make sure the vaccines are delivered safely and effectively to all Americans,” he said in the interview.
Asked on Sunday when Americans would start seeing the impact of the vaccine, Mr Slaoui told CBS that might happen for the most susceptible people in January or February.
“But on a population basis, for our life to start getting back to normal, we’re talking about April or May,” he said.
More than 14 million COVID-19 cases have now been recorded in the US, with over 280,000 deaths.
Mr Biden said last week that his team had not yet seen a detailed outline from the Trump administration to distribute a vaccine to various states.
President calls himself a ‘very gracious loser’ while refusing to concede election loss
Donald Trump travelled to the state of Georgia over the weekend to “ensure” Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler win crucial upcoming Senate runoff elections.
The results will determine which party controls the Senate, with current standings still too close to call.
Mr Trump began his speech at a rally in the town of Valdosta, repeating allegations of voter fraud without evidence.
“You know we won Georgia, just so you understand,” Mr Trump told rallygoers.
“Let them steal Georgia again, you’ll never be able to look yourself in the mirror.”
Later in the speech, Mr Trump again accused the Democrats of “stealing” the election, and warned crowds of the risks of a purported “radical left agenda that hates America” if Georgians didn’t vote for Republican Senate candidates.
“These people [Democrats] are sick — they’ll do anything to beat you,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump urged supporters to vote for Mr Perdue and Ms Loeffler in the runoffs.
“If you don’t vote, the socialists and the communists win,” he said.
“We can fight for the presidency and fight to elect our two great senators, and we can do it at the same time.”
Democrat Jon Ossoff debates empty lectern in Georgia
Ahead of the Senate runoff elections, Georgia’s senate candidates are going head to head — most of them, at least.
Republican incumbent David Perdue declined to participate against his challenger Democrat Jon Ossoff, but the debate went ahead without him.
Mr Ossoff discussed COVID-19 management and recovery in Georgia without any threat of interruptions from his competitor, even being given the opportunity to answer his own questions in the absence of Mr Perdue, and didn’t shy away from the importance of the Democrats’ plight to win the state’s Senate seats.
“If we don’t win these two Senate races, they’re going to try to do to the Biden-Harris administration exactly what they tried to do to President Barack Obama,” he said.
“Our Senator has been absent, is absent, doesn’t think he needs to be here answering questions, doesn’t think he needs to be in Washington passing relief for the people.
Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler also faced off with Democrat and pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, Raphael Warnock.
The Democrats will need to win both races in Georgia to deny the Republicans a Senate majority, which could be used to block much of Joe Biden’s legislative agenda.
What will Joe Biden’s inauguration look like in the midst of the pandemic?
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has focused on the importance of stopping the spread of COVID-19, so it’s expected his upcoming inauguration will look different to those we’ve seen in the past.
During Barack Obama’s inauguration, for example, more than a million people gathered to watch — there was reportedly a much smaller audience for Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2016, but the president stirred controversy after accusing news outlets of misrepresenting the numbers.
But this time, organisers will be attempting to strike the right balance of honouring the significance of this moment while being mindful of an ever-escalating health crisis.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told ABC America that Mr Biden’s team is consulting with leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate on the details and best practices for his January 20 inauguration.