President-elect Joe Biden is quietly pushing forward with the business of preparing to become America’s next commander in chief even as President Donald Trump, who refuses to concede the election, and his administration continue to refuse to coordinate with his transition team on the coronavirus pandemic and block briefings on national security, policy issues and vaccine plans.
Biden is drawing from the senior ranks of his campaign to fill out an increasingly diverse White House leadership team. Former campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon will serve as a deputy chief of staff, while campaign co-chair Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond and campaign adviser Steve Ricchetti will play senior roles in the new administration.
Meanwhile, Trump still insists without evidence the election was stolen from him and has undertaken legal challenges that even state GOP election officials say can't overcome Biden’s lead.
Detroit-Area County Certifies Vote After First Blocking It
Michigan's largest county reversed course and unanimously certified its presidential election results Tuesday night after Republicans first blocked the move in a party-line vote that threatened to temporarily stall official approval of Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the state.
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers acted after the 2-2 tie was condemned by Democrats and election experts as a dangerous attempt to overthrow the will of voters.
The board met after days of unsuccessful litigation filed by Republican poll challengers and President Donald Trump's allies. They claimed fraud during absentee ballot counting at a Detroit convention center, but two judges found no evidence and refused to stop the canvassing process.
Biden crushed Trump in Wayne County, a Democratic stronghold, by more than a 2-1 margin and won the state by 146,000 votes, according to unofficial results.
Harris at Capitol for 1st Time as VP-Elect
Kamala Harris has returned to the Capitol for the first time as vice president-elect.
Harris, who is still a senator from California, voted against Judy Shelton, a controversial nominee for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Her vote on Tuesday helped stall Shelton’s confirmation.
Harris also received a classified intelligence briefing and met with her Senate staff. Harris is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and her continued attendance at intelligence briefings comes as the Trump administration blocks President-elect Joe Biden from receiving such briefings. President Donald Trump has refused to acknowledged Biden’s victory, and the traditional transition process is not moving forward.
Asked about Trump’s false claims he won the election, Harris told reporters: “The American people want leaders that respect our democracy and our democratic process.”
In Court, Giuliani Argues to Block Biden Win in Pennsylvania
Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, returned to federal court Tuesday after a long hiatus to accuse Democrats in control of big cities of hatching a nationwide conspiracy to steal the election, even though no such evidence has emerged in the two weeks since Election Day.
The court case is over the Trump campaign's federal lawsuit seeking to prevent the battleground state of Pennsylvania from certifying its election. Withering questions from the judge gave Trump's opponents hope that the lawsuit will be one of many filed by the Trump campaign around the country to be tossed out of court.
During several hours of arguments, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann told Giuliani that agreeing with him would disenfranchise the more than 6.8 million Pennsylvanians who voted.
“Can you tell me how this result could possibly be justified?” Brann questioned. Giuliani responded, “the scope of the remedy is because of the scope of the injury."
In Ariz., GOP Seeks to Postpone Maricopa County Election Certification
The Arizona Republican Party has asked a judge to bar Maricopa County from certifying its Nov. 3 election results, including Democrat Joe Biden’s win over President Donald Trump, until the court issues a decision about the party's lawsuit seeking a new hand-count of a sampling of ballots.
The GOP made the request Monday night after the county revealed officials planned to approve the returns on Thursday or Friday.
A judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon. The county faces a Nov. 23 deadline for certifying its results.
Second Georgia County Finds Previously Uncounted Votes
A second Georgia county has uncovered a trove of votes not previously included in election results, but the additional votes won't change the overall outcome of the presidential race, the secretary of state's office said Tuesday.
A memory card that hadn't been uploaded in Fayette County, just south of Atlanta, was discovered during a hand tally of the votes in the presidential race that stems from part of a legally mandated audit to ensure the new election machines counted the votes accurately, said Gabriel Sterling, a top official in the secretary of state’s office.
The memory card's 2,755 votes are not enough to flip the lead in the state from Democrat Joe Biden to Republican President Donald Trump. The breakdown of the uncounted ballots was 1,577 for Trump, 1,128 for Biden, 43 for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and seven write-ins, Sterling said.
Study Warns of Consequences of Transition Delay
The Trump administration’s refusal to recognize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory could have long-term consequences for the incoming president’s agenda, particularly in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new study warns that an abbreviated transition could impair Biden’s ability to fill the more than 1,200 administration jobs requiring Senate confirmation, including key Cabinet and sub-Cabinet posts on the front lines of addressing the outbreak.
The paper from the Center for Presidential Transition at the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service examined the different pace of confirmations for President George W. Bush, whose transition didn’t begin until after the Florida recount concluded on Dec. 13, 2000, and President Barack Obama. Obama was able to confirm twice the number of Senate-approved appointments, including national security postings, at the 100-day mark than his predecessor, who had a shorter period to plan to assume the White House.
The study states: “Further delays by the General Services Administration in recognizing the outcome of the Nov. 3 election could impede the ability of President-elect Joe Biden to make timely and critical appointments for key COVID-19 and national security-related positions, thereby weakening the government’s ability to protect our nation and distribute life-saving vaccines.”
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Asks for Meeting With Biden
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is asking to meet with president-elect Joe Biden to discuss plans and staff for his incoming administration.
In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the five leaders of the CHC write that they are hoping to “discuss matters urgent to the Caucus, including the composition of your administration and forthcoming legislative agenda.”
They also say they’d like to work with Biden on “critical issues affecting Hispanics,” which include an “equitable recovery to COVID-19,” immigration, equitable education and health care access, racial justice and civil rights protections.
Biden has pledged that tackling immigration will be one of his top priorities as president, but it’s unclear where the issue falls on a long list of legislative promises Biden has made throughout his campaign.
He has, however, already named a number of Latinos to key positions in his White House staff, including Anthony Bernal and Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon, who will both have top roles on Jill Biden’s staff, and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who will be director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Israel's Netanyahu, Rivlin Call to Congratulate President-elect Biden
Israel’s president and prime minister spoke with Joe Biden on Tuesday for the first time since his victory in the U.S. election, joining other world leaders in referring to him as the president-elect despite President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump, congratulated Biden after the election was called earlier this month but did not refer to him as president-elect then and has avoided commenting on the election results.
Israelis have welcomed Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and his unprecedented support for Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians. Biden’s plans to return to the Iran nuclear agreement and press for the revival of the Mideast peace process could set him on a collision course with Netanyahu, who had icy relations with the Obama administration.
“In a warm conversation, the president-elect reiterated his deep commitment to the state of Israel and its security,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
Netanyahu ”said that the special bond between Israel and the US is a fundamental component of Israel’s security and its policy. The two agreed to meet soon in order to discuss the many issues on the agenda and reiterated the need to continue bolstering the steadfast alliance between the U.S. and Israel,” the statement said.
Israel’s ceremonial president, Reuven Rivlin, also spoke with Biden and congratulated him on the election, calling him “a long-standing friend of the state of Israel.” He added: “Our friendship is based on values that are beyond partisan politics and that we have no doubt that, under your leadership, the United States is committed to Israel’s security and success.”
Georgia Officials Discover Over 2,500 Ballots During Recount
Election officials in Georgia announced late Monday that the hand recount of ballots had turned up more than 2,500 votes in one county that weren't previously counted but that won't alter the overall outcome of the race.
The unofficial breakdown of the newly discovered ballots was 1,643 for President Donald Trump, 865 for President-elect Joe Biden and 16 for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, according to Gabriel Sterling, a top elections official. Biden’s lead will drop slightly from around 14,200 to about 13,400.
County election officials around the state worked through the weekend on a hand tally of the votes in the presidential race as part of a legally mandated audit to ensure the new election machines counted the votes accurately.
“The reason you do an audit is to find this kind of thing,” Sterling said.
He said the issue appeared to be an isolated problem and that there were “no fundamental changes” in other counties.
Floyd County election board Chairman Tom Rees said it appears the ballots were cast during in-person early voting but election officials weren’t sure how they were missed.
The county elections office suffered several setbacks, including a top official being infected by the coronavirus, and it seems proper procedures weren't followed when the results were tabulated by machine, Sterling said. But the county had the paper ballots and caught the problem during the hand tally, he said.
Biden, Harris to Receive National Security Briefing, But Not From Gov't Officials
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are set to receive a national security briefing Tuesday from diplomatic, intelligence and defense experts instead of government officials because the Trump administration still hasn't formally approved the transition, NBC News reports.
The briefing is clearly part of the incoming administration's effort to pressure the General Services Administration to ascertain the election so that Biden can start receiving intelligence briefings. The GSA has so far refused to sign off on a transition as President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election.
Georgia Election Official Says Graham Asked Him About Tossing Ballots
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham asked him whether he had the power to reject certain absentee ballots, a question he interpreted as a suggestion to toss out legally cast votes.
Raffensperger made the comments to The Washington Post, saying he's faced rising pressure from fellow Republicans who want to see Democrat Joe Biden's narrow lead in the state reversed. Nearly 5 million votes were cast in the presidential election in Georgia, and Biden was leading President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes.
Raffensperger's comments came as election officials across the state were working to complete a hand recount of votes in the presidential race.
Graham asked him whether political bias might have caused elections workers to accept ballots with nonmatching signatures and whether Raffensperger could throw out all absentee ballots in counties with higher rates of nonmatching signatures, the secretary of state told the newspaper.
Asked Monday about Raffensperger's interpretation that he was suggesting that legally cast ballots should be thrown out, Graham said, “That's ridiculous.” He said he was trying to find out how signature verification for absentee ballots works in Georgia.
Trump Campaign Lawsuit Over Pennsylvania Vote Heads to Court
A hearing on the Trump campaign's federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the vote results remains on track for Tuesday after a judge quickly denied the campaign's new lawyer's request for a delay.
U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew Brann told lawyers for Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the counties and state election official it has sued that they must show up and “be prepared for argument and questioning" at the Williamsport federal courthouse.
The Trump campaign wants to prevent certification of results that give President-elect Joe Biden the state's 20 electoral votes, suing over election procedures that were not uniform across the state.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has asked to have the lawsuit thrown out, calling its allegations in court filings “at best, garden-variety irregularities.”
President-Elect Biden Wary of Trump-Focused Investigations, Sources Say
President-elect Joe Biden has privately told advisers that he doesn't want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of his predecessor, according to five people familiar with the discussions, despite pressure from some Democrats who want inquiries into President Donald Trump, his policies and members of his administration.
Biden has raised concerns that investigations would further divide a country he is trying to unite and risk making every day of his presidency about Trump, said the sources, who spoke on background to offer details of private conversations. They said he has specifically told advisers that he is wary of federal tax investigations of Trump or of challenging any orders Trump may issue granting immunity to members of his staff before he leaves office. One adviser said Biden has made it clear that he "just wants to move on."
Another Biden adviser said, "He's going to be more oriented toward fixing the problems and moving forward than prosecuting them."
Any approach by Biden's Justice Department to Trump, his staff, his associates, his business or his policies wouldn't affect investigations by state officials, including Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has fought to obtain Trump's tax returns.
Read the full story on NBCNews.com
Biden Filling Out Top White House Team With Campaign Vets
President-elect Joe Biden is drawing from the senior ranks of his campaign to fill out an increasingly diverse White House leadership team.
People familiar with Biden's initial decisions confirmed Monday that former campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon will serve as a deputy chief of staff, while campaign co-chair Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond and campaign adviser Steve Ricchetti will play senior roles in the new administration. Richmond will leave his Louisiana congressional seat to fill the White House job.
Those familiar with the decisions were not authorized to disclose internal discussions ahead of a formal staffing announcement expected for Tuesday.
O'Malley Dillon, 44, was the first woman to manage a successful Democratic presidential campaign. She is a veteran political operative who worked on both of former President Barack Obama's White House bids. Ricchetti worked as lobbyist for the health care industry, among others, before becoming Biden's chief of staff during the Obama administration.
Biden's campaign was staffed with many alumni from Obama world and his administration is expected to be as well.
Head of Government Agency Under Pressure to Let Transition Proceed
The head of an obscure federal agency that is holding up the presidential transition knew well before Election Day that she might soon have a messy situation on her hands.
As head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy is facing the difficult job of “ascertainment” — the task of determining the expected winner of the presidential election, which launches the official transition process.
It’s been 10 days since President-elect Joe Biden crossed the 270 electoral vote to win the presidency. Although it is clear that Biden won, Murphy has yet to certify him as the winner, stalling the launch of the official transition process. When she does ascertain that Biden won, it will free up money for the transition and clear the way for Biden’s team to begin placing transition personnel at federal agencies.
Trump administration officials also say they will not give Biden the classified presidential daily briefing on intelligence matters until the GSA makes the ascertainment official.
The White House has not said whether there have been conversations about ascertainment between officials there and at GSA.