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Good morning. The Trump campaign has dropped a central claim in its legal challenge to the election result in Pennsylvania, which formed a key part of Joe Biden’s win. In the run-up to a hearing on Tuesday, the president’s legal team withdrew its claim that more than 680,000 absentee ballots were illegally processed without campaign representatives watching. However, the campaign team still hopes to block Pennsylvania, with its 20 electoral college votes, from confirming a victory for Biden.

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian Demonstrations against the election result continued this weekend, with Trump supporters alleging it was fraudulent, despite a lack of evidence. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Despite pressing ahead with lawsuits, the president tweeted on Sunday that Joe Biden “won” the election, but insisted it was only because voting was “rigged” and in a follow-up stated “I concede NOTHING”. Nesrine Malik argues that although Trump’s post-election behaviour has at times seemed farcical, his refusal to concede is no laughing matter and sets a dangerous precedent for future elections.

© Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters Trump, pictured playing golf on Sunday, and his legal team still hope to prevent Pennsylvania certifying for Joe Biden by claiming ballots that would otherwise have been disqualified from the election were fixed in favour of the Democrats, an allegation for which there is no evidence.

The sloppy incoherence and chaos of Trump and his administration makes it hard for some to believe that they are capable of pulling off anything as organised as a coup. But if enough Republican lawmakers and enough Republican voters can be activated to make it happen, Trump himself needs to do very little.

  • Five ways US democracy is failing: The election exposed deep flaws in the country’s democratic system. Ed Pilkington explores five problems with US democracy, from the electoral college system to the appointment of judges.

Soaring Covid cases are pushing Trump into a corner

© Provided by The Guardian Trump’s refusal to concede prevents Biden from accessing information about the pandemic, and planning for his own administration’s coronavirus response. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Democrats, senior Republicans and health experts are urging Trump to allow a transition of power to begin, amid an alarming surge in coronavirus transmission in which the US reached 11 million confirmed cases on Sunday night. The latest million cases were recorded in less than a week.

While Biden’s transition team are expected to meet with Pfizer, the company behind a coronavirus vaccine with 90% effectiveness, Trump’s refusal to concede is hindering preparations for a vaccine and preventing Biden’s team from meeting with US government health officials, including the White House coronavirus taskforce.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious diseases official and member of the taskforce, joined calls for a smooth transition of power this weekend. Fauci also revealed that Trump had not attended any coronavirus taskforce meetings “for several months”.

Video: Trump supporters defiant in support of president (USA TODAY)

Trump supporters defiant in support of president
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How Georgia’s Senate runoffs are ‘decisive for America’s future’

© Provided by The Guardian Tens of millions of dollars are flowing into Georgia to support Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock (pictured) before the Senate runoff races in January. Photograph: Brynn Anderson/AP

In January, control of the Senate will rest on the shoulders of two Democratic candidates in Georgia. If Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock can beat their Republican incumbent opponents, they will give Kamala Harris tie-breaking vote as vice-president in a chamber split 50-50. Though precarious, this would dramatically improve Joe Biden’s chances of implementing his legislative agenda. In separate interviews on Sunday, both men said the contests were critical for the future of the US. Ossof said:

There are hundreds of thousands of lives hanging in the balance, there are millions of jobs and homes and livelihoods hanging in the balance.

In other news …

© Provided by The Guardian The amount of plastic entering the ocean is expected to triple by 2040, if trends continue. Photograph: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images

  • Biden has been urged to join a global treaty on plastic pollution to “correct the wrongs of the Trump era”. More than two-thirds of UN member states have announced that they are open to a new agreement to tackle plastic pollution, but the two biggest per capita waste producers, the US and UK, are yet to get on board.

  • Trump is reportedly considering buying Newsmax, the rightwing news outlet that has still refused to call the election for Biden – and subsequently won support from the president. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump allies have considered building the outlet into a competitor for Fox News, which Trump has fallen out with in recent days over its refusal to support his baseless claims of voter fraud.

  • Election demonstrators were arrested in Washington over the weekend, during clashes between pro-Trump supporters and counter-protesters about who is the rightful winner of the election. One stabbing was reported, and two police officers were injured.

View from the right

In focusing on Trump and his refusal to concede the election, Republicans are throwing away the victories they can take from the presidential race, argues Dan Hannan in the Washington Examiner today. The GOP made gains in the house, is set to hold the Senate, and won greater, and more diverse, support than in 2016 – but Trump’s behaviour threatens to undermine all of this.

At best, their refusal to accept the presidential election result looks petty and graceless and risks what ought to be two comfortable Senate wins in Georgia. At worst, it undermines the legitimacy of America’s institutions.

Don’t miss this

A record number of young voters turned out for the election and mobilised voters in key swing states, helping Biden to victory. Now, they want the president-elect to return the favour by tackling the climate crisis head on, and they are ready to hold him to account.

Last Thing: Obama says ‘Michelle would leave me’ for taking a cabinet role

The former president Barack Obama has ruled out a position in Joe Biden’s cabinet, saying that if he did, “Michelle would leave me”. Speaking to CBS Sunday Morning, Obama detailed the impact his political career had on his wife, saying she passed on exciting opportunities to make sure she could be around for the couple’s two daughters. “With my election she’d been forced to give up a job with real impact for a role [as first lady] that – in its original design, at least – was far too small for her gifts,” he said.

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