JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff On the “NewsHour” tonight, an elusive deal Congress struggles to pass a long awaited pandemic relief bill, as millions of Americans deal with economic stress Then, getting the vaccine. The challenges ahead for distributing the shots in the U.S amid ever-increasing infections and deaths Plus, an uneven impact. Los Angeles goes into lockdown, as front-line workers and communities of color bear the brunt of the coronavirus surge in California DR. DEBORAH PROTHROW-STITH, Dean, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science: The deaths are just tragic. And both in Black and brown communities, you have higher death rates JUDY WOODRUFF: And it’s Friday. Mark Shields and David Brooks break down congressional negotiations, president-elect Biden’s Cabinet picks, and the Trump campaign’s continued efforts to undermine the election All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: In a closely watched decision, the U.S. Supreme Court tonight has denied an attempt by the state of Texas, supported by a large number of Republicans, to overturn the election results and Joe Biden’s victory Here to help us understand what the justices decided and more, our Lisa Desjardins, our Yamiche Alcindor, and our John Yang So, John, let me start with you What was the court being asked to do? And tell us what they have ruled JOHN YANG: Texas wanted the court, Judy, to say that the elections in four states that Joe Biden turned from Republican to Democrat, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, that the elections in those states were unconstitutional They wanted them to — the court to bar those states from using the results of the elections to determine the electoral votes, and instead order the state legislatures in those states, all, by the way, controlled by Republicans, to determine the electoral votes that those states would cast But the justices said that — essentially, that what — the election laws in the other states were none of Texas’ business, that Texas was not qualified to bring this suit In the words of the order: “Texas has not demonstrated an interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John, I was just reading the very short decision. There was only — it was only a matter of a couple of paragraphs But what did we learn in there about the thinking on the part of the nine justices? JOHN YANG: Not a lot, Judy As you note, it’s a very short — short order In these sorts of orders, we don’t even know the vote breakdown We do know that, in this case, Justices Thomas and Alito, on very technical procedural grounds, said they would have let this lawsuit go forward They would not have done what Texas wanted them to do, bar the states from using the election results for the electoral votes And they would not say how — they would not offer any views about how they would have

decided this case after they heard the arguments from the — from Texas and the other states, so not a lot of visibility here on exactly what the thinking was JUDY WOODRUFF: Yes, so many eyes on this, and trying to understand every word in this decision So, to Yamiche now Yamiche, as we know, President Trump signed on to this lawsuit by Texas. So many Republicans joined in. Attorneys general from something like 17 states joined in, 160-some Republican members of the House What — how important was this suit to President Trump and his campaign and their attempt to overturn election results? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: This case that the Supreme Court just ruled on was incredibly important to President Trump and to the Trump campaign The president called it the big one. He said that this case possibly was the most important election case in the history of the United States. And, tonight, the Supreme Court, effectively, is ending the president’s efforts to try to have the election overturned through the courts The president had said over and over again, throughout the election, even before people voted, that the Supreme Court was his backup plan if he lost. He said he would only be able to lose if there was some sort of election rigging. There is no evidence that any of the things that the president said happened happened, in terms of no mass voter fraud Courts after court have told the president that he needs to show actual evidence And, tonight, what’s really striking about this decision is that the three Supreme Court justices who President Trump put on the Supreme Court bench, they are not saying anything here. They’re not dissenting with this decision So, this also was in line with other Trump-backed judges not siding with the president when it comes to his efforts to do this Now, critics of the president say he’s essentially trying to use the courts to steal an election here. We should remind people that Joe Biden is at this point leading in the popular vote by some seven million votes. And it seems very clear tonight that, in 40 days, Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States This court here — this court decision makes that even more of a possibility Another thing I should note, I have been texting with people that are close to the president and White House aides. Right now, we’re not hearing anything, but the feeling is very solemn. And they’re very angry at the idea that the president is going to have to — even if he doesn’t concede, have to leave office JUDY WOODRUFF: So, it does look like the end of the road for this court case. We do know they’re still trying to overturn decisions in state legislatures as recently as today But I do want to quickly get to Lisa, because, Lisa, as John reported, two-thirds of the Republican members of the House had signed on to this case Tell us about what they were thinking, what the motivation was here, and where they stand on all this LISA DESJARDINS: Some of them argue the substance that John was talking about, that state election officials went too far But others, Judy, were arguing that they wanted clarity on the election itself. And it does seem, in rejecting this lawsuit, the Supreme Court is offering that kind of clarity I’m looking for reaction from those House Republicans. I haven’t seen it yet. I have gotten some reaction from other Republicans, one of them telling me, frankly, they’re relieved that this is actually, in their view — and this is a Republican aide — something that backs up our institutions of governance As for leaders in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi sent out a letter earlier today saying that the lawsuit was an act of flailing GOP desperation I went back to her office after this happened just in the past few minutes. Her spokesman, Drew Hammill, texted me back reaction, two words: “As expected.” JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, just quickly, though, it was the House Republican leadership that was involved in this, correct? LISA DESJARDINS: That’s correct. That’s right Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, and Steve Scalise, his deputy, both of them signed on to this lawsuit. It will be interesting to see what they say McCarthy is not just the House leader, which is a prominent position for the Republicans He is also a very close confidant and adviser to President Trump himself JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, a very important decision by the Supreme Court, one that we have been waiting to see And thank you, all three, for your reporting on this, Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, John Yang Thank you JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. is on the verge of rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, as the number of daily infections shattered records this week But, as the Food and Drug Administration prepares to approve Pfizer’s inoculation for emergency use, there are reports that the White House ordered the agency’s head to authorize it today, or to resign FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn later played that down, calling it an untrue representation

of a phone call he had with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows In other developments, New York Governor’s Andrew Cuomo again suspended indoor dining in New York City beginning on Monday GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): In New York City, you put the CDC caution on indoor dining together with the rate of transmission and the density and the crowding, that is a bad situation The hospitalizations have continued to increase in New York City. We said that we would watch it if stabilization — if the hospitalization didn’t stabilize, we would close indoor dining It has not JUDY WOODRUFF: We will have more on the vaccination effort later in the program The U.S. Senate approved a sweeping defense funding bill today. It’s worth $740 billion and includes a 3 percent military pay raise The bill received enough support to override the president’s veto threat over liability shields for social media companies Soon after, Senate lawmakers also passed a one-week extension of government funding in order to avoid a shutdown. That will buy them more time to negotiate COVID-19 relief We will have more on this after the news summary President-elect Joe Biden introduced five more of his Cabinet picks today and emphasized their diversity. In Wilmington, Delaware, Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge pledged to curb racial inequity at the department of Housing and Urban Development. She would be only the second Black woman to lead the agency REP. MARCIA FUDGE (D-OH), U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Nominee: The crisis of injustice that has forced communities of color to make it in America with one dream tied behind their back Each crisis chips away at their hope, at the promise our nation. But I believe that hope is on the way JUDY WOODRUFF: Former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice pledged to expand opportunity, as head of the president’s Domestic Policy Council. She noted her own history being the granddaughter of Jamaican immigrants and a descendant of enslaved people SUSAN RICE, Former U.S. National Security Adviser: For far too many, the American dream has become an empty promise, a cruel mockery of lives held back by barriers, new and old That is not good enough for any American JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, President Trump held no public events today, but he continued to dispute the election results on Twitter, without evidence The Trump administration today is set to carry out the second federal execution this week Louisiana truck driver Alfred Bourgeois will be put to death for abusing and killing his 2-year-old daughter in 2002. Three more federal executions are scheduled for January, before president-elect Biden takes office European Union leaders agreed today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by the end of this decade. The European Commission president said that the deal will put them on a path toward climate neutrality in 2050 She spoke at their summit in Brussels URSULA VON DER LEYEN, President, European Commission: Now that we have secured the funding, we have the means for our actions. All E.U countries should benefit from the transition with economic growth, a cleaner environment and healthier citizens. The European green deal will be our growth strategy JUDY WOODRUFF: However, some environmental groups like Greenpeace have warned that emissions need to be cut by at least 65 percent in order to sufficiently tackle climate change Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been charged under the city’s national security law. Local media reported that Lai was charged on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security. If convicted, Lai could face up to life in prison And trading was light on Wall Street today The Dow Jones industrial average gained 47 points to close at 30046. The Nasdaq fell 28 points, and the S&P 500 shed four Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Congress struggles to pass a long-awaited pandemic relief bill; COVID vaccines in the U.S. could begin as early as next week, amid ever-increasing infections and deaths; Los Angeles county goes into lockdown as the pandemic surges; plus, much more JUDY WOODRUFF: The expected approval of Pfizer’s new vaccine has stirred excitement about the

first shots being delivered next week to a select number of people It comes as multiple news organizations reported that President Trump’s chief of staff threatened to fire the FDA commissioner if approval was not granted by the close of business today The FDA denied that those threats were made And, late today, the government announced that it will buy 100 million more doses of a vaccine by another company, Moderna But, for all of the interest around these first vaccines, we have been learning about delays with other vaccine candidates William Brangham looks at those realities WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Judy, the speed of vaccine development has been unprecedented, but there have been some setbacks Today, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said that the launch of their potential vaccine will be delayed, after it did not generate a sufficient immune response in older people. The U.S and other governments had expected that vaccine to be part of their arsenal That news follows confusing results recently with AstraZeneca’s potential vaccine and amid other questions about whether the federal government missed an opportunity to buy enough doses of Pfizer’s vaccine Matthew Herper is a senior writer who covers this field for STAT News Matthew, thank you very much for being here Let’s start off, first, with this Sanofi and Glaxo news. These are two companies with a long track record of developing vaccines, so there was some surprise about these hiccups But are these just to be expected in the normal process of vaccine development? MATTHEW HERPER, STAT News: Absolutely I mean, this is what we have been expecting all along when it comes to vaccine development You have to remember, in drug development, it’s, like, 90 percent of projects that fail It’s the norm This would normally be a small hiccup, because, normally, drug companies don’t have to deliver on these kind of time frames. It really is impressive that this didn’t kind of thing happen with either the mRNA vaccines, either Pfizer, BioNTech, or Moderna WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, as we have mentioned also, there was some trouble with AstraZeneca, and the initial doses were confused that they were giving out to patients in their trials And now they might have to redo some of that Does that mean that they’re likely going to have to do a whole ‘nother set of trials before that could be ready? MATTHEW HERPER: Well, we’re going to have to see We — the main trial in the U.S. of the original dosing scheme is still ongoing. It’s not clear whether those results are really statistically different or whether it was the amount of vaccine or how long. But, yes, it’s a potential delay. It’s not great news The efficacy of the dose that was being tested originally was a little more than 60 percent, which would have been good if we hadn’t just heard about the Pfizer and Moderna results WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So, I guess it should be said that, as you were mentioning, delays should be expected. That’s a normal part of the process But there had been incredible hopes that some of these vaccines might be available sooner than now may be in reality MATTHEW HERPER: That is a big problem The ones that are most effective are not the easiest vaccines to make. And that’s going to be a real — a real problem. And they’re also not the easiest vaccines to distribute The Pfizer/BioNTech in particular needs to be kept super cold. And that’s going to make it hard to get those from one place to another And it’s going to be hard to make enough Look, the Sanofi/Glaxo vaccine, that was going to be a billion doses next year. That’s a big hit in the total number of doses available The AstraZeneca vaccine was the easiest one to make and was the one that was going to be, without profit, distributed around the world So it’s not great news that those are moving more slowly than the mRNA vaccines, than Moderna and Pfizer WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Help me understand what might be confusing to some people watching this. If we have Moderna and Pfizer more or less in hand, and those seem to be very effective vaccines, why do we need all these other ones? MATTHEW HERPER: Well, the simplest answer is, we don’t have enough, even for the U.S You hear — the numbers sound bigger than they are, remember, because you need two doses of each. And you shouldn’t assume that every dose that’s made is going to make its way into an arm, just like with anything else There’s going to be things lost in transport And so we need more volume. There are also maybe advantages to some of these other vaccines in terms of who they work for and how, which is one reason to develop more of them. But the big — the big answer is just that we don’t have enough WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Matthew Herper of STAT News, thanks for helping us wade through all of this Thank you so much JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s turn now to the impact of COVID’s resurgence in many states, and

take a look at how it’s hitting California hard, despite the state’s earlier success California broke new records with the virus this week, leading officials to order new restrictions in more than 90 percent of the state, at least until December 28 Stephanie Sy reports that, in Los Angeles County, front-line workers and communities of color are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s toll STEPHANIE SY: At the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, COVID-19 patients are often first seen in the emergency department, where Dr Greg Moran works DR. GREG MORAN, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center: Most of those people, we do a swab on them, we check them out, make sure that they’re stable, check their oxygen level, and we send them home STEPHANIE SY: But too many have ended up in the ICU, where DR. Nader Kamangar sees patients DR. NADER KAMANGAR, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center: In my 20 years of being an intensivist and an ICU pulmonary specialist, this is the worst I have ever experienced STEPHANIE SY: This man had pneumonia, brought on by coronavirus. He was placed belly down, a technique doctors have learned can help oxygenate blood in COVID patients and save lives DR. NADER KAMANGAR: It’s room after room of critically ill patients with COVID. By the time they make it to the ICU, they oftentimes require being placed on a mechanical ventilator STEPHANIE SY: A critical shortage of experts who can operate ventilators and deliver high-flow oxygen is a bigger problem than physical capacity DR. GREG MORAN: In certain types of disasters, like if there’s an earthquake here, we can bring in people from outside who can help out and provide some of that care. This is a disaster that’s happening simultaneously all across the world STEPHANIE SY: Compared to a month ago, L.A County now has five times the rate of hospitalizations and nearly four times the number of daily deaths At a briefing earlier this week, grief overcame the health director, Barbara Ferrer DR. BARBARA FERRER, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health: Over 8,000 people — sorry — over 8,000 who were beloved members of their families are not coming back STEPHANIE SY: New restrictions began this week in most of California. All restaurant dining, even outdoors, is banned. So is nonessential travel. Beach-going is OK, and now also playgrounds, but only after an outcry from parents. Some question the lockdown WOMAN: His school shut down, and he started putting on a lot of weight and started, like, just getting bored. So, I was just like, OK, we have things to do during this time, but what about the kids? QUESTION: Right WOMAN: So, it’s very confusing STEPHANIE SY: Where there was an existing gap between how COVID affected people of color and white people, the latest surge shows a chasm Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith is dean at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles DR. DEBORAH PROTHROW-STITH, Dean, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science: The Latinx community in particular here in Los Angeles is really experiencing this third surge, if you will But the deaths are just tragic, and both in Black and brown communities, you have higher death rates STEPHANIE SY: L.A. County reports that it’s seeing new COVID cases among Latino residents at more than double the rate of white residents JACQUELINE GONZALEZ, Los Angeles: I lost my job. I lost my housing STEPHANIE SY: The pandemic has torn apart 30-year-old Jacqueline Gonzalez’s life JACQUELINE GONZALEZ: Due to the point of the COVID, I had reduced hours, little by little, reduced days. Schools were closed. The kids were unable to go. I didn’t have nobody to leave my kids STEPHANIE SY: She says she was forced to leave her job at McDonald’s, and now she’s homeless and living in a shelter, which makes her and her four children even more vulnerable to contracting the virus BARBARA KAPPOS, Executive Director, East Los Angeles Women’s Center: There’s a pandemic within the pandemic STEPHANIE SY: Barbara Kappos is the executive director of the East Los Angeles Women’s Center BARBARA KAPPOS: For many of our families we’re working with, they don’t have the rent to pay, adding that to whatever hardships they had before. And now, because of COVID-19, this has multiplied STEPHANIE SY: All these problems will continue to get worse, unless more people follow prevention guidelines, say officials, which is why outreach workers armed with informational flyers are fanning out to hot spots, from shopping centers to streets PAUL CARRILLO, Executive Director, Southern California Crossroads: We hope to educate people, and get them to practice better behavior STEPHANIE SY: Some outreach workers have not had an easy go of it. Jazmin Flores said one of her colleagues was spat on JAZMIN FLORES, East Los Angeles Women’s Center: He just turned around and spit on his face, like, coughed really, really hard. And he just left STEPHANIE SY: Is there a trust issue between some of these communities of color and government? DR. DEBORAH PROTHROW-STITH: There are trust issues for generations. And I think surveys

of Latinx and African-American communities make it very clear that people are very skeptical of the vaccine STEPHANIE SY: Longstanding inequities in health and education and the undertow of pandemic fatigue have culminated in a perfect storm raging in hospitals DR. NADER KAMANGAR: I don’t want to be an alarmist, but we are struggling. And I see this on a day-to-day basis on the faces of our nurses, our staff, our young doctors, our residents, who really are grappling with this, not only the burden of the number of patients we have to take care of, but just the sheer amount of time that we have been under this stress STEPHANIE SY: Surgeries have been canceled And if things get much worse, the next step would be rationing care to those deemed most likely to survive, a crisis mode that not so long ago was unthinkable in the Golden State For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Stephanie Sy JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: invisible attacks on American spies and diplomats. It is a medical mystery that is almost certainly wrapped in the age-old and high-stakes spy games between the U.S and Russia Here’s Nick Schifrin NICK SCHIFRIN: Judy, the symptoms were sudden and shocking, sleeplessness, headaches, inability to walk, memory loss, cognitive difficulties Across two years and at least three continents, dozens of intelligence officials and diplomats suffered medical conditions that derailed assignments and their careers Last weekend, the National Academies of Sciences released the first authoritative government report, concluding the victims were most likely hit by directed pulsed radio-frequency energy The lead author was Stanford microbiology and immunology professor David Relman DAVID RELMAN, Stanford University: That form of microwave radiation is really not terribly common in the world around it. It’s sometimes used, for example, in radar systems. It sometimes is used in clinical medicine for treatment of certain ailments. But it’s not common in the home around us or in the world that we normally frequent And that’s what makes it a little bit unusual, and sort of the message behind it a little bit different NICK SCHIFRIN: The message? Someone may have pointed a nonlethal weapon at U.S. government employees in order to harm them. And some former intelligence officials believe the perpetrator was likely Russia To discuss this, we turn to Marc Polymeropoulos, former clandestine CIA officer who was in Moscow in 2017, when he experienced these symptoms Marc Polymeropoulos, welcome to the “NewsHour.” What did the attacks feel like? And how long did they last? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS, Retired CIA Operative: It was a night in a hotel room in Moscow I will never forget. It was, frankly terrifying I didn’t hear any noise, but I did wake up to something, which turned out to be right away feelings of intense vertigo, ringing in my ears, incredible nausea. I couldn’t stand up. I was falling down on the floor And, look, I spent a long time in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was clearly the most terrifying moment of my life NICK SCHIFRIN: What’s happened to your career since? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: That was December 2017 By July 2019, I had to retire, and certainly retire early You know, I was in the Senior Intelligence Service. I had a highly decorated career as an operations officer, and I think I had a lot more left in the tank. But, frankly, by that point, I couldn’t do a full day’s work, and I had missed four months of work. And so I was compelled to retire I don’t think I’m in as bad a shape as some of the other individuals who have been afflicted by this. But I have a headache that never goes away. It’s 24/7. I have had it for literally three years, at about a three or four level And it’s chronic pain NICK SCHIFRIN: Do you believe that this was perpetrated by Russia? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: There certainly is historical precedent for the Russians kind of doing nasty things to U.S. officials. So, kind of put that — chalk that up But, number two, there has come to be a strong circumstantial case that it was the Russians And I have to be careful on here to kind of honor my secrecy agreements, so I will just say that it’s been reported in the press that the CIA conducted an investigation using some techniques which we call geofencing, and, in essence, found that as other officers later, after me, have been affected by this in different parts of the world, that they saw the travel of Russian intelligence officers very close to those locations So, ultimately, a strong circumstantial case, both historical and with some investigative techniques, I think, has been made and, at the very least, just warrants further investigation NICK SCHIFRIN: Do you believe this is ongoing? And do you believe it’s ongoing in multiple

locations, including perhaps here in the United States? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: I do. I do You know, from individuals I talk to, I know several cases that had occurred after myself I’m aware that these are still ongoing. There is a case that apparently, reportedly, did occur also in the United States. And so I have no doubt that this is still occurring And I think you’re going to see more attention paid to individuals who have had this happen to them NICK SCHIFRIN: What’s the connection, as far as you can tell, between the initial victims of this, you and these other alleged victims, in terms of what kind of work you were all doing? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: So, let me just start with the recent cohort. It’s myself and others We were all very senior CIA officers, most of us in the Senior Intelligence Service, most of us traveling overseas, in which we’re going to discuss with partners or going to talk to U.S. government officials about the Russians And so I think that lends some credence to that — the idea that the Russians would know that we would be traveling. They could anticipate this NICK SCHIFRIN: A bipartisan group of senators have pushed for not only the release of the report that we’re talking about now, but for the victims to get medical attention Do you believe the administration has blocked the medical attention that some of you have been asking for? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: I would say, within the CIA’s operations directorate, up until — up to the top levels, everyone has been — has, first of all, believed that something occurred and has been very helpful I think, though, in — both in the Department of State and certainly in CIA, senior medical officials have been less than stellar in their reaction to this. There have to be reforms, so that officers who are afflicted by this get proper medical care, we’re not told, as I was, that I’m making this up NICK SCHIFRIN: I should note that there is an on-the-record statement that the CIA sent me — quote — “CIA’s first priority has been and continues to be the welfare of all of our officers.” The State Department also says it takes diplomats’ health seriously. Do you believe that the U.S. government has taken your health seriously? And, going forward, are you going to get the medical treatment that you have asked for? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: So, the answer to your first question, no, they did not I think, with the cohort that was hit in both Havana and China, from all different agencies, I don’t think they were treated with either respect or the proper medical care. And I certainly was not as well. It took me — with a rather unprecedented step, as someone who lived in the shadows for so long, I went public with this And to do that was a very difficult decision But I had to do it, because, ultimately, I needed to get proper medical care. Now, I think, in the future, I do see, even now, the tide turning, but it’s because of the publicity You know, for example, I am going to Walter Reed, which has a world-class TBI, traumatic brain injury, program. That is what I really requested. And, ultimately, the agency granted me that NICK SCHIFRIN: The fact that we’re talking about this, and the fact that this happened to you and to others, do you believe that that could affect CIA recruitment in the future? MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: Oh, boy. I don’t think so. I don’t think this should stop anyone from wanting to undertake public service, in fact, the opposite. I think you just get people angry And so my reaction to this would be, please join the federal government, join the intelligence services, so we can go back and take it to our enemies NICK SCHIFRIN: Marc Polymeropoulos, thank you very much MARC POLYMEROPOULOS: Thank you, Nick JUDY WOODRUFF: The effects of mass incarceration in this country are felt by many more people than those convicted of crimes Student Reporting Labs, which is our journalism training program, explores how the criminal justice system can create obstacles for kids and families It’s part of our series all this week Searching For Justice MARY WILLIAMS: It’s estimated that nearly half of all U.S. children have at least one parent with a criminal record. And, for the families, the negative effects of incarceration continue far beyond time served Seventeen-year-old Xcellence Glenn’s father was released from prison in 2005 following a conviction from drug and firearms possession, but the family had a hard time finding a home last year. More than once, they were all set to move, only to find out their rental application was denied How did it feel to pack up all that stuff, and then unpack, repack and figure out your living situation? XCELLENCE GLENN, Florida: It was kind of hard, because where we was before, it was kind of packed together, since we was a big family And we were hoping to move somewhere bigger MARY WILLIAMS: Xcellence’s mom, Sheena Meade, was hesitant to tell her kids the real reason things weren’t working out SHEENA MEADE, Managing Director, Clean Slate Initiative: We had met all the financial requirements Credit was great. We always paid our rent on time. But there was something that was preventing us from getting the homes we wanted MARY WILLIAMS: That something was her husband Desmond Meade’s criminal record SHEENA MEADE: On the application, it says, have you ever been arrested or convicted of

a felony conviction? And you have to check that box MARY WILLIAMS: But, by this time, Desmond had become a successful lawyer and a prominent activist. Last year, he was named as one of “TIME” magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for leading an effort in Florida to restore voting rights to over 1.4 million people with past felony convictions Sheena says the whole family has been part of that work, advocating for reforms to the criminal justice system, but their rental applications kept getting denied SHEENA MEADE: And so we would come home and have to tell the kids, well, this house didn’t go through, after all the excitement, or this house didn’t go through And the ironic thing about it, it was right after myself and the children, we had celebrated Desmond had got his own day. The mayor and the commissioner had deemed Orange County Desmond Meade Day, which is September 10 MARY WILLIAMS: Looking back on that and looking at the work you do, how does that feel? Like, are you angry at that? SHEENA MEADE: Yes, it always gets me upset It makes me more upset when I think about other people who are not as fortunate or who doesn’t have the time or the resources to take all that time and to keep going back and forth MARY WILLIAMS: Sheena says they finally got approved for a place after she went directly to the owner of a home they were interested in and shared a letter about the family, along with press clippings showing all their accomplishments SHEENA MEADE: No one should have to have to do that to have affordable or safe housing, but that was our reality MARY WILLIAMS: Xcellence wants other kids to know there’s no shame in having a parent with a criminal record XCELLENCE GLENN: Some kids, they don’t really want to talk about it. They think that it’s bad. They feel embarrassed. But it’s not something you should be embarrassed about SHEENA MEADE: Not only are people prevented from voting. They’re prevented from finding homes and houses and living where they want freely because of a system I think that could have been a missed opportunity to really talk to our children. And that’s what I’m hoping that others will hear from this, is, like, let’s not miss those opportunities to inform and educate our community and our families, instead of shying away from it MARY WILLIAMS: For the “PBS NewsHour” Student Reporting Labs, I’m Mary Williams JUDY WOODRUFF: As another week of this devastating pandemic comes to an end, we take a moment now to honor some of those we have lost to COVID-19 Guadalupe Perez had an entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for cooking. He spoke little English when he left Mexico for the United States in the ’90s. He started a business selling raspados, or frozen ice. Every summer, the 62-year-old greeted long lines of customers in Chicago eager to try his bold flavors Generous and thoughtful, Guadalupe always shared whatever he had with others, his son said. He offered food or jobs to friends in need. And for his five children, he worked tirelessly and spared no expense to help them succeed Han Sim Hildebrand to laugh and be silly, especially with her children and grandkids Her son said she made it easy for people around her to relax. A hard worker with a green thumb, Han turned her home vegetable garden into a successful business and was a founding vendor at the Columbia Farmers Market in Missouri She was also a leader in her church, and, even at 71, woke up at 5:30 every day for the morning service Seventy-seven-year-old Paul J. Foley Jr. felt a responsibility to give back to his country, his daughter said. He was a lieutenant in the Army and served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Most recently, he worked as an elections judge in Chicago Family was the center of Paul’s life. He taught his kids the importance of service, and it was important to him that everyone’s voice was heard. His loved ones knew him as a risk-taker who loved to be silly and greeted everyone with a smile Pharmacist Ed McFall spent more than a half-century fighting to bring better health care to small towns like the one he grew up in. His work took him to Oklahoma City, where he served on the board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority A former governor, David Walters, said he was struck by Ed’s knowledge and — quote — “compassion for rural health.” His career also brought him to his wife. The couple reconnected at a pharmacy convention and were engaged within a week. The 76-year-old father and grandfather spent his free time fishing, traveling in his R.V., and driving his boat on the lake

Sixty-four-year-old Keith Jacobs had an artistic eye, his son said. Keith was a photographer who loved capturing human emotions, and would tell everyone to have a picture-perfect day Funny, witty, and kind, he was dedicated to his family above all else Known by his loved ones as a simple man, Keith would often tell his daughter: “Make sure you’re a good person first. Then catch your dreams.” And, as always, we want to thank family members for sharing these stories. Our hearts go out to you, as they do to all those who’ve lost loved ones in this pandemic And now to the analysis of Shields and Brooks That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks Hello to both of you So, let’s begin with the news this evening, the Supreme Court saying that they do not have standing to take this case filed by the state of Texas challenging, David, the election results in four states that voted for Joe Biden over Donald Trump This is a case, gotten a lot of attention — or the suit, I should say — because there were 17 states, many states’ attorneys general signed on, two-thirds of the Republican members of the House But now the Supreme Court has thrown it out, with dissent, we should say, by Justices Alito and Thomas But, David, what does this say about the state of our politics right now with regard to this election result? DAVID BROOKS: Well, the court system has hung in there And I should pointed out all three Trump-appointed justices sided with the majority on this one And it’s simply written in the Constitution that state legislatures get to control their own elections. And the state of Texas doesn’t get to tell Michigan and Pennsylvania and other states whether their elections are firm or not It was just an outrageous suit from the beginning, one of the desperate ploys Trump has tried The shameful thing, of course, is that 126 House Republicans signed onto it and a bunch of attorney generals. It’s a party that has just lost any touch with democracy Somebody said on Twitter today, Trumpianity is a very strange religion. And, fortunately, unlike the legislative branch on the Republican side, the judicial branch has stayed true and faithful to the obvious meaning of the Constitution JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, as you watch this drama unfold, what do you make of it at this point, now that the Supreme Court has weighed in? MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think we’re in the final chapter, Judy. At least I hope so I don’t — I don’t ever ask that people on the other side agree with me. I do ask that you believe in what you say, in the position you take. And this was an example of, I think, base hypocrisy on the part of House Republicans They — there are 153 safe Republican House seats in the House of Representatives, that is, that Republicans control or dominant in And what they’re — they’re terrified, the members there, are a primary, being primaried by a Donald Trump supporter who said, you didn’t stand with the president And the Republicans are in a terrible position at this point. They desperately want the Trump voters, the 11 million he brought in over four years ago, for example. But they don’t want Donald Trump. They desperately want Donald Trump gone And so — but the last thing in the world they want to do is in any way incur his wrath, for fear he will do to them what he did to Mark Sanford or Jeff Sessions in Alabama, and that is punish them for not being 110 percent Trumpist JUDY WOODRUFF: But, in the process, David, are they doing damage to our democracy? DAVID BROOKS: Immense damage I mean, they’re calling an election for millions and millions of people into question. As we have talked about before, 77 percent of Trump backers think it was a fraudulent election So, where do we go going forward? They’re trying to not alienate Trump voters, but the 126 House members, including people like Kevin McCarthy, leaders, are basically telling his story. And they’re telling his comeback story They’re giving every pretext for him to run again in 2024 and continue to make this Donald Trump’s party. And so if they wanted to get rid of Donald Trump, this was, in my view, the worst way to do it, because they have signed on to the gospel. and now they’re more or less stuck with it JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, do you see long-lasting damage here? MARK SHIELDS: Yes JUDY WOODRUFF: Is this something that the country can get through?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, beyond the politics of it, Judy, the position taken is undemocratic It’s hypocritical. It’s just indefensible, and when you’re talking about elections I mean, I would assume that all Republican House members from Michigan and Wisconsin and Georgia and Pennsylvania who signed on to this suit would summarily resign from the House, because they’re saying that they were elected in a criminal election It’s certainly this illegality that they allege out of thin air didn’t — wasn’t limited just to the presidential vote. So, I just find it beyond — when I say that want the Trump voters without Donald Trump, they can’t wait for Donald Trump to be gone I mean, how they quiver in fear about him They just — they’re terrified of him. It’s not born of affection or anything of the sort or a high regard. It’s born of rank fear And that has to be demeaning for every Republican in the House who signed on Liz Cheney, the third member of the House leadership from Wyoming, did not, and good for her JUDY WOODRUFF: David, let me ask you both about something else the Congress is not doing, in this instance, and that’s a finding a way to come up with relief, help for people suffering in this pandemic It’s been months and months. They have come down to the wire. They figured out a way to fund the government another few days, but they still don’t have COVID relief. What is the holdup here? And do you see them getting through this? DAVID BROOKS: Well, this is a foundational problem, too If faith in God collapses, then the church collapses. If faith in our institutions and each other collapses, then the nation collapses And so undermining the election is one piece of that But unwilling — the unwillingness to recognize the legitimacy of views on the other side is another piece of it. And we have had five months of people unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of their views and come to meet them halfway We finally last week had a legislature behave like it’s supposed to behave, where we had eight senators who created a compromise, along with members of the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House. And they created a very reasonable and, to me, on the merits, a very good compromise on how to get COVID relief To their great credit, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said, OK, this is our framework. Mitch McConnell won’t go there. And so he’s not willing to do the work of legislation. He says that their — that compromise will not work with Republicans Well, Mitch McConnell’s position won’t work with Democrats. So, that’s what politics exists for. And so it’s just another piece of a fundamentally broken political system JUDY WOODRUFF: Mark, do you see a way through this? MARK SHIELDS: I do, Judy I think — it’s unthinkable to me that they will not pass a COVID relief bill. I mean, we’re talking about Americans on the eve of Christmas without the resources to feed their children, to heat their homes, to pay their rent We’re not talking about some giveaway to anybody We’re not talking about a major stimulus We’re talking about human survival and human dignity. And I just can’t believe that the Republicans, Mitch McConnell, who is threatened by this, they’re all consumed with the February (sic) 5 election in Georgia And if you’re Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue running in those special Senate elections, and you have to stand up there and defend that the Republican Senate was the stumbling block to sending relief to American families in desperate need at Christmastime? I don’t think so So, I think that, finally, urgency and political survival will intervene What threatens Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, is, a leader has to be able to deliver his troops. Right now, he’s got a problem, because he doesn’t have a majority of his caucus on this side And David’s right about the bipartisan group meeting, but they represent a threat to leadership And I give Speaker Pelosi credit for accepting the act of the bipartisan negotiation But Mitch McConnell — if the leader is going to be held hostage by bipartisan groups negotiating a fair deal, then, oh, my goodness, there goes your power, because, in Washington, the perception power is power. If I think you have power, you do. And if enough people think you have power, then you do And once there are doubts about your power — and I think that’s where McConnell finds himself right now JUDY WOODRUFF: David, in the time we have left, I do want to ask you about president-elect

Biden He’s been introducing more of the top people in his administration, the people he wants to serve. I guess the one who’s getting the most criticism or attention that has been critical is Lloyd Austin, the retired Army general, to be secretary of defense. But there are others It’s interesting, a number of familiar faces from the Obama administration. What do you make of the — some of the senior picks he’s made so far? DAVID BROOKS: Well, Joe Biden has picked people he really knows, people he knows well. He spent a lot of time with Lloyd Austin in Iraq when he was vice president. He’s picked Denis McDonough for the VA, who, by the way, is one of the most fundamentally decent people I have ever covered in public life These are, by and large, almost entirely, very good people, but very familiar, Susan Rice over now at the domestic side. And so they are people he knows, he trusts who will be ready on day one. And so it’s — it is really Obama three, in that sense I also share some of the concerns with Lloyd Austin, not for anything having to do with Lloyd Austin and his performance. But there’s a reason we have this rule, this tradition, and also a rule, that you don’t have generals switching right over to the defense secretary It’s about civilian control It’s about picking people who have distance from the current military brass. And that is a very solid and sensible rule. And in the Jim Mattis case, where we also had to get an exemption, that struck me as an extreme circumstance where getting Jim Mattis in there was so important, it was worth breaking the rule Now there must be a lot of very qualified people, like Michele Flournoy, who could be secretary defense. I don’t quite see why we run this risk of traversing what is a sensible principle JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Mark, what is your assessment of some of these Biden — some of the main Biden picks so far? MARK SHIELDS: Well, Judy, I think, in dramatic contrast to his predecessor, Joe Biden was knocked by his political opponents for having spent 47 years in Washington He knows these people. He’s worked with them He knows their strengths and their weaknesses If they turn out to be lemons, it’s because Joe Biden picked them, not because they were imposed upon him. And so I really think that the strength of the nominees is that Joe Biden certifies them, validates them. And that’s the accountability of a presidential leader And on the whole, I remained impressed by them. I would point out that any money that’s left over from the stimulus, the original bailout on COVID, will be in the stewardship of Janet Yellen, as secretary of Treasury And I think there’s somebody who will spend it wisely and well and quite humanely JUDY WOODRUFF: And on that note, we thank you both, Mark Shields, David Brooks Have a great weekend MARK SHIELDS: Thank you JUDY WOODRUFF: And Monday on the “NewsHour,” we begin a new series exploring an underreported public health crisis, putting America’s children at risk NARRATOR: In a country up ended by a pandemic, fears of another growing crisis. Childhood trauma impacts millions of Americans, and the consequences can be life-changing WOMAN: I just fell into the deepest, darkest place that I have ever been in my entire life NARRATOR: The “PBS NewsHour” takes a closer look at this silent epidemic in a new series, “Invisible Scars: America’s Childhood Trauma Crisis,” starting Monday night on the “PBS NewsHour.” JUDY WOODRUFF: Some important reporting coming up And that is the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff Have a great weekend. Thank you, please stay safe, and good night

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