A pair of Senate runoffs in Georgia that will determine which party controls the chamber has reordered the political universe in the days since the election, influencing nearly every decision by members of both parties, including the refusal of most Republicans to recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.Senators are lining up day trips to Atlanta to campaign. Party leaders are carefully calibrating their postelection messages to frame the fight on the ground. And Mr. Biden’s transition team is tailoring its plans to two drastically different outcomes, preparing an ambitious agenda in case Democrats are able to win both races and take control of the Senate, and a more pared-back one in case they fall short.- Advertisement – The most jarring consequence has been Republicans’ refusal to challenge Mr. Trump’s false claims that he won the election. Though most leading Republicans have not repeated his claims, they have also declined to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s clear victory, fearing that doing so would enrage the president and his loyal base of supporters ahead of January.“We need his voters,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Republican, told reporters on Wednesday. “Right now, he’s trying to get through the final stages of his election and determine the outcome there. But when that’s all said and done, however it comes out, we want him helping in Georgia.” And Vice President Mike Pence told senators privately on Tuesday that he planned to jet down to Georgia next week to campaign.Democrats were seeking to rally their own voters and donors in a long-shot bid to win both races in a historically conservative state where their party has often fallen short in runoff contests.“When it comes to the Senate, it’s not over, at all,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said on Wednesday. “Georgia is close.” The contests pit two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, against the Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. But they are quickly becoming nationalized into referendums on Mr. Biden’s victory and the direction of the country.The impact was apparent throughout the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, privately warned House members to watch their words in the coming weeks to deny Republicans any new ammunition to caricature the Democrats as extremists.Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, bucked up Mr. Trump and expressed outrage over Democrats insisting the president concede.- Advertisement – Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was on the ground Wednesday in the Atlanta suburbs rallying with Ms. Loeffler at a Save Our Majority Rally, an indoor event at which many attendees did not wear masks. Senator Rick Scott, the newly elected chairman of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, is scheduled to hold a fund-raiser in the state on Thursday. The stakes are staggeringly high for both sides. With Republicans on track to control 50 Senate seats and Democrats 48, the twin runoffs on Jan. 5 will determine how much power Mr. Biden can wield in a post-Trump Washington.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
Maxwell was arrested last Thursday on charges she helped lure at least three girls — one as young as 14 — to be sexually abused by Epstein, who was accused of victimizing dozens of girls and women over many years.Maxwell, the daughter of the late British publishing magnate Robert Maxwell, was the former girlfriend and longtime close associate of Epstein. She is accused of facilitating his crimes and on some occasions joined him in sexually abusing the girls, according to the indictment against her. Several Epstein victims have described Maxwell as his chief enabler, recruiting and grooming young girls for abuse. She has denied wrongdoing and called claims against her “absolute rubbish.”Maxwell was arrested by a team of federal agents last week at a $1 million estate she had purchased in New Hampshire. The investigators had been keeping an eye on Maxwell and knew she had been hiding out in various locations in New England.She had switched her email address, ordered packages under someone else’s name and registered at least one new phone number under an alias “G Max,” prosecutors have said.When the agents swooped in to arrest her, they weren’t sure that she was even at the home, the official said. Some of the investigators believed she may have already fled from the United States in order to avoid prosecution, the official added.After her arrest, Maxwell was put into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, which utilized a series of suicide-prevention protocols, including taking away her sheets, as well as other safety measures, fearing a repeat of what happened with Epstein.The Bureau of Prisons been plagued for years by serious misconduct, violence and staffing shortages so severe that guards often work overtime day after day or are forced to work mandatory double shifts and has struggled recently with an exploding number of coronavirus cases in prisons across the U.S. Federal officials were so worried Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime confidante Ghislaine Maxwell might take her own life after her arrest that they took away her clothes and sheets and made her wear paper attire while in custody, according to an official who told The Associated Press.The steps to ensure Maxwell’s safety while she’s locked up at a federal jail in New York City extend far beyond the measures federal officials took when they first arrested her in New Hampshire last week.The Justice Department has implemented additional safety protocols and federal officials, outside of the Bureau of Prisons, have been specifically tasked with ensuring there’s adequate protection and the prisons protocols are being followed, the official said. The protections are in case she harms herself, and in case other inmates wish to harm her.The concern comes in part because Epstein, 66, killed himself in a federal jail in Manhattan last summer while in custody on sex trafficking charges. The Bureau of Prisons has been the subject of intense scrutiny and conspiracy theories since then, with staff shakeups and leadership changes. Attorney General William Barr said his death was the result of the “perfect storm of screw ups.”Maxwell was sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge from where Epstein was held.The other protocols put in place for Maxwell’s confinement include ensuring that she has a roommate in her cell, is monitored and making sure someone is always with her while she’s behind bars, the official said.The official could not discuss the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.