Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend

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Trump pressures Georgia official to change vote totals in recorded call

President Donald Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse his loss to President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia, according to an hour-long recorded phone call obtained by The Washington Post. The president insulted, complimented and pleaded with Raffensperger at multiple points in the Saturday call to cooperate with him in altering the election results. “The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” Trump said. “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong,” Raffensperger responded. The audio recording comes as many elected Republicans echo the president’s unfounded claims of a mass election conspiracy.

Expertshave expressed concern about the president’s conduct, indicating his comments were improper and possibly illegal. Neal Katyal, who was acting solicitor general during the Barack Obama administration, said the Trump call to Raffensperger “demonstrates an impeachable, perhaps criminal, offense.”

Senate Republicans split over call to challenge election results

More than 140 Republican members of the House of Representatives will contest Congress’ official counting of the Electoral College vote on Wednesday. A dozen sitting and incoming Republican senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, will also contest the count — the latest attempt by some Republicans to try and overturn the results of the 2020 election. The senators cited “unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law and other voter irregularities” as their reasoning, though they did not cite any evidence to support the allegations. Instead, they argued Trump’s allegations should be explored because the president and his allies have cast so much doubt on the process. The objections are unlikely to overturn the results, since majorities in both the House and Senate would have to agree to exclude them.

  • Paul Ryan excoriates planned GOP effort to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win as “anti-democratic and anti-conservative.”

Meet the 117th Congress, the most diverse yet

New and reelected lawmakers were given their oaths of office Sunday afternoon, swearing to defend the Constitution and marking a new start in a post-Trump Washington. The 117th Congress is the most diverse yet, with at least 121 women and 124 people of color set to take office. But the new Congress faces tough challenges. With vaccines in distribution, it’s tasked with leading the U.S. out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will need to work with a new but familiar president in Joe Biden, lead a nation reckoning with racial strife and help heal divisions following a fierce presidential election. Republicans still hold a slim majority in the Senate, but control of the chamber will be decided on Tuesday in two runoff races in Georgia.

  • “Her toughest test yet”: Nancy Pelosi reelected speaker with narrow vote in what may be her last term.

Real quick

  • A pastor was killed and two other people were injured in a shooting at an East Texas church Sunday, a local sheriff said.
  • Nashville bomber Anthony Warner sent packages that “espoused his viewpoints” to people he knew across nation before blast.
  • The homes of Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi were vandalized after Congress adjourned Friday without securing $2,000 stimulus checks.
  • Larry King has been hospitalized in Los Angeles with COVID-19 for more than a week, CNN reported Saturday.
  • Authorities in Texas are investigating the death of Drill Sgt. Jessica Mitchell, found fatally shot on a San Antonio interstate on New Year’s Day.
  • Unusually high holiday season shipping volumes and long delays at UPS, FedEx and especially USPS anger customers and hammer small businesses.

A new COVID-19 strain is spreading

At least three states — California, Colorado and Florida — and 33 countries have identified a more contagious coronavirus variant, known as B.1.1.7. The strain was first spotted in September in southeastern England and accounted for a quarter of cases in London by November. By the week of Dec. 9, it was responsible for 60% of cases in the city. There is no evidence that B.1.1.7 causes more severe illness or increased risk of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On the vaccine front: the United States fell far short of its goal to inoculate 20 million front-line workers and the elderly in December, according to CDC data. More than 4.2 million people received the first of two required doses as of Jan. 3. More than 13 million doses were distributed across the nation.

Ohio State, Alabama punch tickets to National Championship

After a pair of lopsided semifinal games on New Year’s Day, Alabama and Ohio State are preparing for what is a familiar game for the two storied college football programs: the College Football Playoff National Championship. The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide made quick work of No. 4 Notre Dame, using its offensive firepower to down the Fighting Irish, 31-14. Alabama is looking for its sixth championship under head coach Nick Saban, but they’ll face an Ohio State team coming off a resounding 49-28 win over No. 2 Clemson. The No. 3 Buckeyes were led by a remarkable performance from quarterback Justin Fields, who battled through a rib injury to toss six touchdowns in the win. Ohio State will be making its second appearance in the championship since the sport switched to a playoff format in 2014, while Alabama is getting ready for its fifth.

  • Opinion: Could Ohio State actually be good enough to beat Alabama?

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This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Contributing: Associated Press

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