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Photo by Sarah Silbiger via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told HuffPost in an interview that "we're ready for it all" in the face of a contested election and an unpredictable President Trump.

Why it matters: Whether Trump attempts to claim an early victory, as Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports, or refuses a peaceful transition, Pelosi's team of lawyers, constitutional experts and institutions has a plan, she said on Friday.

What they're saying: The House speaker was clear that she would pursue action should Trump declare victory on election night while millions of people’s votes remain uncounted, calling it "unconstitutional."

  • “We have been prepared for the worst for a long time because what we have seen is the worst on the part of this president in terms of his disrespect for the Constitution, his disregard of free will of the people and his stooping to any level for his own reelection," Pelosi said.
  • She added that the Trump campaign has essentially telegraphed its plan to stop votes from being fully counted: "We knew that it was in their playbook ... to scare people off from voting. So again, when they made it known, they made it easier for us to counter.”
  • Attorneys with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Republicans and former Attorney General Eric Holder have worked with Pelosi for months to prepare for the election, she told HuffPost.

The big picture: The president has repeatedly made attempts to delegitimize the election, claiming mail-in voting fraud, using voter intimidation tactics and pursuing legal challenges to prevent states from counting absentee ballots received after Election Day.

  • Millions of absentee ballots could take days, if not weeks, to count. Both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have stressed in recent days that elections are never called on election night.
  • Joe Biden's campaign echoed Pelosi's warnings on Monday, with campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon telling reporters: “Under no scenario will Donald Trump be declared a victor on election night."

The other side: Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, claimed on Monday that Democrats are trying to "delegitimize" Election Day results by pushing to count ballots past state deadlines.

  • A Trump adviser also falsely claimed on Sunday that Democrats would "steal" electoral votes after election night, despite the fact that electoral votes aren't awarded until December.

The bottom line: “Don’t panic. Be confident. We will make sure that we will have a fair count,″ Pelosi told HuffPost.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

8 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.