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's scattershot effort to overturn Biden’s victory is shifting toward obscure election boards that certify the vote as Trump and his allies seek to upend the electoral process, sow chaos and perpetuate unsubstantiated doubts about the count. The battle is centered in the battleground states that sealed Biden's win.
The latest news on the 2020 presidential election
Here are the latest developments on the transition and election results:
Georgia Hand Tally of Votes Is Complete, Affirms Biden Lead
A hand tally of the presidential race in Georgia is complete, and the results affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s lead over Republican President Donald Trump.
Biden went into the recount with a margin of 13,558 votes, according to votes tallied by NBC. Previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count reduced that margin to 12,284 votes, the Georgia Secretary of State's office reported.
”The recount process simply reaffirmed what we already knew: Georgia voters selected Joe Biden to be their next president, “Jaclyn Rothenberg, Georgia communications director for the Biden campaign said. “We are grateful to the election officials, volunteers and workers for working overtime and under unprecedented circumstances to complete this recount, as the utmost form of public service.”
Biden Says He Has Chosen Treasury Secretary
President-elect Joe Biden says he has decided whom to nominate as his secretary of the Treasury Department.
Biden said Thursday that the decision will be announced just before or after Thanksgiving and that “you’ll find it is someone who I think will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, progressives through the moderate coalition.”
Biden spoke to reporters after participating in a video conference with a group of governors from both parties, telling them he wanted to be their partner in the White House. The governors talked about the need for government officials to be clear with Americans about what to expect as the virus surges. He says, “They all acknowledge this is going to take a massive education campaign.”
Biden’s treasury secretary would lead his economic team as many businesses and Americans struggle while the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Judge Rejects Trump Suit in Georgia
A judge on Thursday denied a high-profile conservative attorney's request for a temporary restraining order to halt vote the certification of election results in Georgia.
L. Lin Wood Jr., alleges Georgia illegally changed the process for handling absentee ballots. Wood's lawsuit takes aim at a legal settlement signed earlier this year that addresses accusations about a lack of statewide standards for judging signatures on absentee ballot envelopes.
Georgia’s deputy secretary of state has called Wood’s case a “silly, baseless claim.”
Judge Rejects GOP Bid to Delay Vote Certification in Phoenix
A judge has rejected the Arizona Republican Party’s bid to postpone the certification of election results in Maricopa County and dismissed its legal challenge that sought a new audit of a sampling of ballots.
Judge John Hanna issued the ruling Thursday with little explanation. Maricopa County is expected to certify results Friday. It’s unclear whether the party plans to appeal the decision.
While the GOP said its challenge aims to determine whether voting machines were hacked, no evidence of fraud or hacking has emerged during this election in Arizona. The court ruling comes as the state GOP has pressured county officials statewide to delay certifying election results.
Biden Calls Trump 'Most Irresponsible President'
President-elect Joe Biden is denouncing President Donald Trump as the “most irresponsible president in American history” over his efforts to overturn the result of the election.
Biden was asked by a reporter Thursday about Trump extending a White House invitation to Michigan state lawmakers in an apparent bid to overturn the results of the election in the state, which Biden won.
Biden shook his head, noted that "there’s questions whether it’s even legal” and said the move was “outrageous.”
Biden added: “It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks.”
Speaking broadly about Trump’s refusal to concede the election, Biden said Americans are “witnessing incredible irresponsibility” and warned that “incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions."
Trump Called Mich. GOP Officials Who Asked to Rescind County Election Certification Vote
Two Republican members of the Wayne County, Michigan, board of canvassers who initially refused to certify the county's vote before reversing themselves spoke with President Donald Trump Tuesday evening, a day before then rescinded their decision again.
Monica Palmer told NBC News that she and her GOP counterpart, William Hartmann, were contacted by Trump, but did not discuss their decision to rescind the vote “or anything like that.”
“My conversation with the President was about threats coming from the public and my safety — not about rescinding my vote,” Palmer told NBC.
Palmer and Hartmann voted in favor of certifying Joe Biden's local landslide before reverting to their initial stance of refusing to bless the vote tally. They said they only voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure" and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.
State officials said the certification of the Detroit-area vote will stand. Michigan's chief election officer said a post-election audit will be performed, though not to check “mythical allegations” of fraud.
Meanwhile, Trump summoned Michigan's Republican legislative leaders to the White House for a meeting Friday amid a longshot GOP push to overturn the certification of Biden's victory in the battleground state, NBC News reports. Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield agreed to go, according to a state official aware of the leaders’ plans. It was not immediately clear what the meeting would be about. Neither Shirkey nor Chatfield commented.
Wisconsin Issues Recount Order Sought By Trump in 2 Counties
The Wisconsin Elections Commission issued an order Thursday to recount more than 800,000 ballots cast in two heavily liberal counties at President Donald Trump's request.
The order, required by law after Trump paid $3 million for the recount, was agreed to after rancorous debate for more than five hours Wednesday night that foreshadows the partisan battle ahead.
“It’s just remarkable the six of us in a civilized fashion can’t agree to this stuff,” Democratic commissioner Mark Thomsen said hours into the debate. The commission is split 3-3 between Democrats and Republicans.
The recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, where Joe Biden outpolled Trump by a more than 2-to-1 margin, will begin Friday and must be done by Dec. 1. Biden won statewide by 20,608 votes. Trump’s campaign has cited “irregularities” in the counties, although no evidence of illegal activity has been presented.
Biden, Harris to Meet With Governors as Trump Stays Out of View
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will hold a virtual meeting with the National Governors Association's executive committee on how to improve coordination between federal and state responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, who has stayed mostly out of public view in the two weeks since his election loss, has no public events on his schedule. He hasn't held a public event since last Friday when he delivered an update on Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s effort to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.
Georgia to Release Report on Presidential Race Hand Recount Results
Georgia election officials expect to release a report Thursday on a hand tally of the presidential race, and they have repeatedly said they expect it to affirm Democrat Joe Biden's narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.
The hand tally of about 5 million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request. The state has until Friday to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.
The counties were supposed to finish the hand count by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state's new voting system, said he expected the secretary of state's office to put out a report on the results by midday Thursday.
Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5%. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Sterling said.
GOP Canvassers Again Oppose Certifying Detroit-area Votes
Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, the two Republican canvassers in Wayne County, said in a statement issued late Wednesday that they only voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure" and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.
Palmer and Hartmann initially voted against certification Tuesday, leaving the Wayne County Board of Canvassers deadlocked at 2-2 along party lines. Palmer complained that certain Detroit precincts were out of balance, meaning that absentee ballot books did not match the number of ballots cast.
The GOP move drew an immediate rebuke from the public and injected partisan politics into the business of an unsung panel that is supposed to confirm the will of the voters.
Biden crushed Trump in Wayne County, a Democratic stronghold, by a more than 2-1 margin on his way to winning Michigan by 146,000 votes, according to unofficial results.
Certifying results is a routine yet important step after local election officials have tallied votes, reviewed procedures, checked to ensure votes were counted correctly and investigated discrepancies. But as Trump has refused to concede to Biden and continues to spread false claims of victory, this mundane process is taking on new significance.
Lawsuits have been filed by Trump allies in Michigan and Nevada seeking to stop certification. Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani argued to stop vote certification in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, the first time he’d been in a courtroom in decades. And the same day, the Arizona Republican Party asked a judge to bar Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, from certifying until the court issues a decision about the party’s lawsuit seeking a new hand count of a sampling of ballots.
Biden Approaches 80 Million Votes in Historic Victory
President-elect Joe Biden is close to winning more than 80 million votes in his campaign. Biden's total continues to rise as Democratic strongholds like California and New York process their remaining ballots.
He will likely have won the White House by a greater margin than any other president this century other than Barack Obama in 2008.
Biden is also on track to win the Electoral College with the same 306 votes that President Donald Trump described as a “landslide” victory in his own 2016 race.