AFTER TRUMP FIRES ESPER, TONY TATA GETS PENTAGON PROMOTION: In a memo obtained Tuesday by Defense One, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller — who was put in that job on Monday after Trump fired former Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet — announced that Tata would take the policy role. Tata could not get the Senate to confirm him for the position earlier this summer in part due to a string of false statements he has made in the past, including calling former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader,” a comment for which he ended up penning a letter of apology to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla, who was helping oversee his Senate confirmation. Tata is replacing Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Anderson who resigned early Tuesday following the firing of Esper.
CUNNINGHAM CONCEDES U.S. SENATE RACE TO TILLIS: "The voters have spoken, and I respect their decision," Cunningham said in a statement. The race was the most expensive in U.S. Senate history, with the candidates and outside groups spending more than $287 million. The bitter campaign included attacks on Cunningham after a woman confirmed to have had an affair with him this year and countless ads suggesting Tillis was more interested in donations from corporate interests than in ensuring North Carolina residents had access to health care. "While the results of this election suggest there remain deep political divisions in our state and nation, the more complete story of our country lies in what unites us: our faith and sense of confidence in our democracy, our civic values and common humanity, our shared aspiration to care for one another and our belief that we live in a country that does exceptional things," Cunningham said. "The end of this campaign does not mark the end of our need to improve access to health care, strengthen education, heal racial wounds, and create better jobs. These are causes that still must be championed."
GOVERNOR COOPER TIGHTENS PHASE 3 RESTRICTIONS AS 2ND WAVE OF VIRUS WORSENS: With coronavirus cases surging across North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday announced the state will remain paused in Phase 3 of its reopening plan. He also announced the limit on indoor gatherings will be lowered from 25 to 10 people. "We've come too far to lose our focus now," he said, eight months after COVID-19 first shutdown much of the state. The Phase 3 order on reopening businesses and public spaces had been scheduled to expire Friday. Cooper enacted Phase 3 in early October, after relaxing past reopening restrictions. Cooper also announced that starting Nov. 12, full-service restaurants may apply to the North Carolina Department of Commerce for up to $20,000 in rent or mortgage interest relief. Today's press conference came as the state sees some of its highest coronavirus numbers since the pandemic began early this year. With a little over two weeks until Thanksgiving, Cohen voiced concerns that holiday gathers could fuel further spread of the virus.
SUPREME COURT LEANING TOWARDS PRESERVING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: A majority of the Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s essential components in the face of the latest challenge to the health care law brought by Republican-led states and the Trump administration. Two key members of the court — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh — said plainly during two hours of teleconferenced arguments that Congress’s decision in 2017 to zero-out the penalty for not buying health insurance did not indicate a desire to kill the entire law. With that, the latest effort to derail President Barack Obama’s landmark domestic achievement seemed likely to meet the fate of past endeavors. President Trump and Republicans have never summoned the votes to repeal the measure — even when in control of Congress and the White House. And the court has been unwilling to do the work for them. Roberts, a conservative who nonetheless became the bane of many on the right when he wrote the 2012 Supreme Court decision upholding the act’s constitutionality, alluded to that in Tuesday’s arguments. “I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall … when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act,” Roberts told Kyle D. Hawkins, the Texas solicitor general marshaling the effort on behalf of 18 Republican-led states. “I think, frankly, that they wanted the court to do that. But that’s not our job,” he said.
TRUMP IS DIGGING IN, INSTALLING LOYALISTS IN KEY POSITIONS: President Trump, facing the prospect of leaving the White House in defeat in just 70 days, is harnessing the power of the federal government to resist the results of an election that he lost, something that no sitting president has done in American history. In the latest sign of defiance, the president’s senior cabinet secretary fueled concerns on Tuesday that Mr. Trump would resist handing over power to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. after legal challenges to the vote. “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. Mr. Trump’s attorney general has at the same time authorized investigations into supposed vote fraud, his general services administrator has refused to give Mr. Biden’s team access to transition offices and resources guaranteed under law and the White House is preparing a budget for next year as if Mr. Trump will be around to present it. The president has also embarked on a shake-up of his administration, firing Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper as well as the heads of three other agencies while installing loyalists in key positions at the National Security Agency and the Pentagon. Allies expect more to come, including the possible dismissals of the directors of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. “What we have seen in the last week from the president more closely resembles the tactics of the kind of authoritarian leaders we follow,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, a nonprofit organization that tracks democracy around the world. “I never would have imagined seeing something like this in America.” Mr. Abramowitz doubted there was much danger of Mr. Trump overturning the election. “But by convincing a large part of the population that there was widespread fraud, he is seeding a myth that could endure for years and contribute to an erosion of public confidence in our electoral system,” he said.