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Dec 16, 2020

Axios Sneak Peek

Welcome to Sneak Peek, our nightly lookahead from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.

  • The inauguration is in 36 days.

🚨 Breaking: President Trump is considering pushing for special counsels to investigate Hunter Biden and baseless claims of election fraud, AP reports.

  • Trump — angry that outgoing Attorney General William Barr didn't publicly announce the ongoing Hunter probe — has discussed the matter with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and outside allies.

Today's newsletter — edited by Axios contributor Glen Johnson — is 697 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing ... Scoop: Biden eyes last-minute GOP pick

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman is seen in a screengrab as she addresses the Democratic National Convention last summer. Photo via Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering some well-known Republicans — think Meg Whitman types — for Commerce secretary as a way to signal to red-state Americans he understands their concerns and plans to address them.

The big picture: The president-elect’s team is debating the political upside of an across-the-aisle pick, and it's still very possible Biden will settle on an all-Democratic Cabinet, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • For Commerce, he also could select a mostly apolitical CEO, like former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, as a neutral way to reach out to the business community. The Commerce secretary is considered an administration's ambassador to the business world.

Why it matters: While Biden again promised Monday night to be a “president for all Americans,” his team hasn’t decided on a strategy to convince some of the 74 million Trump voters he will address their issues.

Go deeper.

2. Mitch's heads-ups

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Mitch McConnell alerted Kevin McCarthy this morning that he would congratulate Joe Biden for winning the Electoral College vote, but McCarthy is refusing to do the same, and a group of 26 incoming GOP House members sent Nancy Pelosi a letter asking the Speaker to investigate alleged voter fraud, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

Why it matters: While the Senate majority leader is trying to return a sense of equilibrium to his chamber, McCarthy — who's already plotting his run for House Speaker in 2022 — is refusing to do anything that could upset President Trump.

  • As Alayna scooped this evening, McConnell alerted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about his planned congratulations, so the president would not be caught off guard.

Alayna also learned McConnell placed a separate call to McCarthy, the California Republican who serves as House minority leader.

Go deeper.

3. Granholm helps Biden with left

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The choice of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for Energy secretary helps Biden on several fronts, Axios Generate author Ben Geman tells Sneak:

  • The left is comfortable with her, and even several groups on the left flank of the green movement applauded the choice.
  • Her two terms as Michigan governor give her close familiarity with the auto business, which will get a lot of attention as Biden seeks to greatly speed up adoption of electric vehicles.
  • Her executive experience will be helpful at a time when prospects for major climate and energy legislation are slim.
  • Granholm, the Wolverine State's first female governor, is a frequent TV pundit and so would be an effective surrogate.

Michael Regan, the top environmental regulator in North Carolina, is a leading candidate to head EPA, as reported earlier.

  • Why it matters: If nominated and confirmed, Regan, the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, would be the first Black man to head the agency, and is yet another example of Biden assembling one of the most diverse Cabinets in U.S. history.
4. N.M. v. N.M. for Interior

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Biden is considering two New Mexicans to be Interior secretary, which could provide an early test to his promise to end new energy drilling on federal land.

Why it matters: New Mexico is a Democratic state where oil and gas production is crucial to the local economy, and the next Interior secretary — with both retiring Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Deb Haaland in the running — will be charged with implementing Biden’s proposed ban.

The big picture: Udall is the nephew of the late Rep. Mo Udall, a former chairman of the House Interior Committee, and son of former Interior secretary Stewart Udall. Haaland is a Native American whose candidacy is backed by tribal leaders, as Axios' Alexi McCammond reported last week.

Go deeper.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the late Rep. Mo Udall as a senator.

5. Pic du jour

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

A group of meerkats huddle under a heat lamp at the Hannover Zoo in Germany, a scene captured for a story about how zoos are using virtual pet adoptions to raise money because the coronavirus has prompted visitor bans.

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