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Bob Woodward's Trump tapes & the 2020 election; no COVID relief

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares his perspective on US politics:

The Atlantic revelations about Trump's derogatory military remarks didn't seem to have that much of an impact with regular voters. Will Bob Woodward's new book also be a dud?

You know, the president has endured an astonishing number of body blows that would probably be fatal for any mere mortal. But what's unique about this current round of revelations is that there are tapes. I can expect those tapes, which go right at the president's greatest weakness, which is his handling of the coronavirus, to be played ad nauseum by the Biden campaign from now until the election.


How close is the US to a new stimulus package and why was the $1T recently proposed a fraction of what was originally offered?

Well, the stimulus package is looking pretty dead. Both sides seem pretty content with their position and not doing anything. And when neither side feels urgency to compromise, neither side is going to compromise. What's really surprising about this is the president. And if the opposition parties offer you the chance to send out $1200.00 checks to every household three weeks before an election, you'd think the president would want to say yes. But he's obviously not feeling enough urgency to agree to the Democrats other demands. And so nothing is probably going to happen.

With a thousand suspected cases of double voting in Georgia, are Trump's warning of voter tampering warranted?

No. There's very little evidence of vote tampering in the United States. What there is a lot of evidence for is poor election administration. And what the president's comments are doing is creating confusion and encouraging voters to do things they really shouldn't, like vote twice. This is going to be a huge issue this fall with a surge in absentee ballots. Absentee ballots have a higher rejection rate than in-person mailing. So it could be the case that the person who wins this election is not the person who's got the most turnout, but the person whose voters are best at following complicated instructions on their ballots.

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It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here, have your quick take. Plenty going on this week. I could of course talk about all these new Biden appointees, but frankly, there's not that much that surprising there. Moderate, lots of expertise, not very controversial, almost all of which could get through a Republican controlled Senate, presuming that markets are going to be reasonably happy, progressives in the Democratic party somewhat less so. But no, the big news right now internationally, certainly about Iran. The Iranians started this year with the assassination by the United States of their defense leader, Qasem Soleimani. Everyone was worried about war. Now, closing the year with the assassination of the head of their nuclear program and historically the head of their nuclear weapons program.

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Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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