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Wednesday, Dec. 9
Hunter Biden, son of President-elect Joe Biden, facing federal investigation over ‘tax affairs’
President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter said Wednesday that his “tax affairs” are under federal investigation, putting a renewed spotlight on the questions about his financial dealings that dogged his father’s campaign. In a statement released by the president-elect’s transition office, the younger Biden said he learned about the investigation on Tuesday. He did not disclose details of the matter.
Joe Biden formally introduces his pick for Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin
President-elect Joe Biden made his case for retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be secretary of defense, urging Congress to waive a legal prohibition against a recently serving military officer running the Pentagon. With concern rising in Congress about eroding civilian control of the military, Biden on Tuesday suggested he felt a need to counter an emerging narrative that Austin’s nomination blurs the lines between civil and military roles. Sticking to their past stands would mean defying a president from their own party just as he takes office. In announcing Austin’s pick, Biden said he hoped the Senate would grant Austin the same waiver it did Mattis.
GOP lawmakers may wait for January to say Joe Biden won 2020 election
Americans waiting for Republicans in Congress to acknowledge Joe Biden as the president-elect may have to keep waiting until January as GOP leaders stick with President Donald Trump’s litany of legal challenges and unproven claims of fraud. Tuesday’s deadline for states to certify their elections – once viewed as a pivot point for Republicans to mark Biden’s win – came and went without much comment. Next week’s Dec. 14 Electoral College deadline may produce just a few more congratulatory GOP calls to Biden.
Stimulus update: New White House offer adds $600 checks to COVID-19 relief
The Trump administration dove back into Capitol Hill’s confusing COVID-19 negotiations on Tuesday, offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans – but eliminate a $300 per week unemployment benefit favored by a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators.
Joe Biden picks Marcia Fudge for housing, Tom Vilsack for USDA
President-elect Joe Biden made two key domestic policy picks, selecting Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge as his housing and urban development secretary and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reprise that role in his administration, according to five people familiar with the decisions. The picks on Tuesday highlighted Biden’s delicate balancing act as he builds out his Cabinet, seeking to diversify his picks and reward the coalitions that helped elect him while also following his instincts to surround himself with close allies who served in the Obama administration.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the offer to Pelosi late Tuesday afternoon, he said in a statement. He offered few details, though House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it proposes the $600 direct payment for individuals and $1,200 for couples, which is half the payment delivered by the March pandemic relief bill.
Tuesday, Dec. 8
Supreme Court rejects Republicans’ bid to halt Biden’s Pennsylvania win
In a single, succinct order, Justice Samuel Alito Tuesday on behalf of the U.S. Supreme Court has shut down an 11th-hour attempt by allies of Trump in Pennsylvania to block its slate of certified electors and toss out 2.5 million mail-in ballots. “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied,” Alito said.
The appeal — brought by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Republican, along with another GOP candidate for Congress — alleged that the state legislature did not legally pass the law allowing for expanded mail-in voting during the pandemic. They sought the justices to order all mail-in ballots thrown out along with the state’s official certification of election results, which was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf last week.
Biden calls for action on COVID-19 pandemic as he introduces health team
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday called for urgent action on the coronavirus pandemic as he introduced a health care team that will be tested at every turn while striving to restore a sense of normalcy to the daily lives of Americans. Biden laid out three COVID-19 priorities for his first 100 days in office: a call for all Americans to mask up, a commitment to administer 100 million vaccines and a pledge to try to reopen a majority of the nation’s schools.
“Out of our collective pain, we are going to find a collective purpose,” Biden said. “To control the pandemic, to save lives and to heal as a nation.”
Trump holds vaccine summit, refuses to concede election
Meanwhile, as Biden was speaking, President Donald Trump held his own vaccine summit. He invited no one from Pfizer and Moderna, nor did he invite President-elect Biden.
“Well, we’re gonna have to see who the next administration is because we won and swing states and there was terrible things that went on. So we’re gonna have to see who the next administration is,” Trump said. “But whichever the next administration is, will really benefit by what we’ve been able to do with this incredible science.”
In new lawsuit, Texas contests election results in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing four battleground states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – whose election results handed the White House to President-elect Joe Biden. In the suit, he claims that pandemic-era changes to election procedures in those states violated federal law, and asks the U.S. Supreme Court to block the states from voting in the Electoral College. The last-minute bid, which legal experts have already characterized as a longshot, comes alongside dozens of similar attempts by President Donald Trump and his political allies. The majority of those lawsuits have already failed.
Safe harbor day: What to know about law that locks Congress into accepting Joe Biden’s win
Other than Wisconsin, every state appears to have met a deadline in federal law that essentially means Congress has to accept the electoral votes that will be cast next week and sent to the Capitol for counting on Jan. 6. Those votes will elect Joe Biden as the country’s next president. It’s called a safe harbor provision because it’s a kind of insurance policy by which a state can lock in its electoral votes by finishing up certification of the results and any state court legal challenges by a congressionally imposed deadline, which this year is Tuesday.
“What federal law requires is that if a state has completed its post-election certification by Dec. 8, Congress is required to accept those results,” said Rebecca Green, an election law professor at the William & Mary law school in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Monday, Dec. 7
Georgia again certifies election results showing Joe Biden won
Georgia’s top elections official on Monday recertified the state’s election results after a recount requested by President Donald Trump confirmed once again that Democrat Joe Biden won the state, his office said. “We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol.
Georgia law allows a losing candidate to request a recount if the margin between the candidates is within 0.5%. Trump requested the recount after the results certified by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger showed that Biden led by a margin of 12,670 votes, or 0.25% of the roughly 5 million ballots cast.
President Trump ratchets up pace of federal executions
As Donald Trump’s presidency winds down, his administration is ratcheting up the pace of federal executions despite a surge of coronavirus cases in prisons, announcing plans for five starting Thursday and concluding just days before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
If the five go off as planned, it will make 13 executions since July when the Republican administration resumed putting inmates to death after a 17-year hiatus and will cement Trump’s legacy as the most prolific execution president in over 130 years. He’ll leave office having executed about a quarter of all federal death-row prisoners, despite waning support for capital punishment among both Democrats and Republicans.
Biden picks California AG Xavier Becerra to be 1st Latino health secretary
President-elect Joe Biden has picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be his health secretary, putting a defender of the Affordable Care Act in a leading role to oversee his administration’s coronavirus response.
If confirmed by the Senate, Becerra, 62, will be the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a $1-trillion-plus agency with 80,000 employees and a portfolio that includes drugs and vaccines, leading-edge medical research and health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted to hospital after COVID-19 diagnosis
President Donald Trump says his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for the coronavirus, making him the latest in Trump’s inner circle to contract the disease that is now surging across the U.S. Giuliani was exhibiting some symptoms and was admitted Sunday to Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The 76-year-old former New York mayor has traveled extensively to battleground states in an effort to help Trump subvert his election loss. On numerous occasions he has met with officials for hours at a time without wearing a mask. Trump, who announced Giuliani’s positive test in a Sunday afternoon tweet, wished him a speedy recovery.
Friday, Dec. 4
Biden predicts ‘bleak future’ if Congress doesn’t act on COVID-19 aid
President-elect Joe Biden is predicting a “bleak future” if Congress doesn’t take speedy action on a coronavirus aid bill amid a nationwide spike in the virus that’s hampering the country’s economic recovery.
He also expressed concern that so far he’s seen “no detailed plan” from the Trump administration on how to distribute an approved coronavirus vaccine, but said he and his team are working on their own proposal to fill in the gaps.
Biden delivered remarks Friday afternoon reacting to November’s national jobs report, which showed a sharp decrease in U.S. hiring even as the country is about 10 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels. The Democrat called the report “dire” and said it “shows the economy is stalling,” but he said quick action from Congress can halt some of the damage.
“If we act now – I mean now – we can begin to regain momentum and start to build back a better future,” he said. “There’s no time to lose.”
Biden: Trump inaugural presence important to US
President-elect Joe Biden says it is important that President Donald Trump attend his inauguration only in the sense that it would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to a peaceful transfer of power between political rivals.
Trump aides have expressed skepticism that the president would attend Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump has continued to falsely claim victory and spread baseless claims of fraud to try to explain away his loss.
Speaking Thursday to CNN, Biden said, “It is totally his decision.” He added, “It is of no personal consequence to me, but I think it is to the country.”
Trump administration must accept new DACA applications, judge orders
The Trump administration must post a public notice that it will accept new applications for the Obama-era program shielding undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, a federal judge ordered Friday.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ latest order builds on his November ruling where he found that Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security secretary when he signed rules limiting applications and renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The Trump administration tried ending DACA in 2017, but the US Supreme Court blocked its attempt in June. In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Wolf issued a memo in July saying that new applications for DACA would not be accepted and renewals would be limited to one year instead of two amid an ongoing review. The memo had sought to buy time while the administration decided its next steps.
Thursday, Dec. 3
Biden keeping Fauci on
President-elect Joe Biden says he is keeping Dr. Anthony Fauci on as a chief medical adviser and a member of his COVID-19 advisory team.
Biden made the comments Thursday during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. He said he spoke with Fauci earlier in the day about the need to instill confidence in any coronavirus vaccine and the fact that “you don’t have to close down the economy” to combat the virus.
Biden says he’d be “happy” to get a vaccine in public to prove its safety. The president-elect also said he would ask the public to wear masks for 100 days to help drive down the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.
Biden to call for 100 days of mask-wearing among first acts amid COVID-19 pandemic
Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he’s pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That’s made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.
The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a “patriotic duty” and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce.
Biden greatly concerned by Trump pardon reports
Joe Biden says reports that President Donald Trump may be exploring preemptive pardons to protect his children, key aides and perhaps even himself from prosecution after he leaves office concern “me a great deal.”
The president-elect told CNN on Thursday that he’s worried about “what kind of precedent it sets, and how the rest of the world looks at us as a nation of laws and justice.”
Biden vowed to ensure that his own Justice Department operates independently. Trump has frequently pressured the agency to do his bidding.
Max Rose delivers emotional farewell speech to Congress
U.S. Rep. Max Rose gave an emotional farewell speech to Congress just days after it was made official that Republican Nicole Malliotakis had defeated Rose, denying the Democrat a second term.
On Thursday, Rose reflected on his last two years of service to New York’s 11th Congressional District — one of the few conservative-leaning parts of New York City.
Wednesday, Dec. 2
GOP objects to Biden nominees, a sign of what’s to come
President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks are quickly running into the political reality of a narrowly controlled Senate. It’s a sign of what’s ahead.
The new Democratic administration will depend on rival Republicans to get anything done. Under GOP leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican senators will hold great sway in confirming Biden’s nominees. That’s regardless of which party holds the majority after runoff elections in January. As Biden rolls out his economic team, he’s asking the Senate to give prompt review to his nominees. But Republicans are signaling that they’re eager to set the terms of debate.
President Trump posts 46-minute speech on election despite no evidence of voter fraud
President Donald Trump posted a 46-minute video of what appears to be him delivering a speech about the election in which he repeats falsehood after falsehood.
Trump recycled a lot of the same false claims that he and his lawyers and allies have been talking and tweeting about over the past month — and used at least one poster board of a chart to demonstrate his points.
‘Someone’s going to get killed’: GOP official lashes out at Trump’s rhetoric surrounding election in Georgia
A top Georgia elections official on Tuesday lashed out angrily at the rhetoric surrounding the election and the threats of violence that have resulted, specifically calling on President Donald Trump to rein in his supporters.
Gabriel Sterling is a Republican who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system. During a routine news conference at the state Capitol to provide an update on the recount of the presidential race requested by Trump, Sterling admonished the president and Georgia’s two U.S. senators, who are both locked in tight runoff races against Democrats and have called on GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign over claims that he mishandled the election.
President Donald Trump teases 2024 run at White House Christmas party
President Donald Trump teased running again for president in 2024 as he hosted a holiday reception at the White House on Tuesday evening.
“It’s been an amazing four years,” Trump told the crowd, which included many Republican National Committee members. “We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
Justice Dept. investigates possible criminal ‘bribery’ for presidential pardon scheme
The Justice Department is investigating whether there was a secret scheme to lobby White House officials for a pardon as well as a related plot to offer a hefty political contribution in exchange for clemency, according to a court document unsealed Tuesday.
Most of the information in the 18-page court order is redacted, including the identity of the people whom prosecutors are investigating and whom the proposed pardon might be intended for.
But the document from August does reveal that certain individuals are suspected of having acted to secretly lobby White House officials to secure a pardon or sentence commutation and that, in a related scheme, a substantial political contribution was floated in exchange for a pardon or “reprieve of sentence.”
Tuesday, Dec. 1
AG Barr: No evidence of fraud that would change election outcome
Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
His comments come despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen, and his refusal to concede his loss to President-Elect Joe Biden. In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.
Unveiling economic team, Biden pledges, ‘Help is on the way’
President-elect Joe Biden has introduced top advisers he says will help his administration rebuild an economy hammered by the coronavirus pandemic. He declared on Tuesday, “I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way.”
Biden says he’s chosen a “first-rate team” that is “tested and experienced.” He picked liberal advisers who have long prioritized the nation’s workers and government efforts to address economic inequality, as unemployment remains high and as the COVID-19 outbreak widens the gulf between average people and the nation’s most well off. The virus is resurgent across the country amid holiday travel and colder weather.
Monday, Nov. 30
Wisconsin, Arizona confirm Biden as state winner
Arizona officials certified the state’s election results on Monday, formalizing Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow victory over Donald Trump even as the Republican president’s attorneys continued to make baseless claims of fraud about the state’s vote count.
Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey both vouched for the integrity of the election before signing off on the results.
Additionally, Joe Biden’s victory in battleground Wisconsin was confirmed Monday following a partial recount that only added to his 20,600-vote margin over President Donald Trump, who has promised to file a lawsuit seeking to undo the results.
Confirmation of the results by the Democratic chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission started a five-day window for Trump to file a lawsuit. Trump on Saturday promised to file a lawsuit either on Monday or Tuesday, a longshot attempt to overturn the results by disqualifying as many as 238,000 ballots. Trump’s attorneys have alleged without evidence that there was widespread fraud and illegal activity.
Joe Biden to nominate Janet Yellen, highlight diversity on economics team
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his senior economic team, including his plans to nominate the first woman to head the Treasury Department as well as several liberal economists and policy specialists who established their credentials during the previous two Democratic administrations.
In a statement, Biden said he would nominate Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, to lead the Treasury Department, and former Clinton and Obama adviser Neera Tanden to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. He also named Wally Adeyemo, a former Obama administration official and the first CEO of the former president’s nonprofit foundation, as his nominee for deputy treasury secretary. He also unveiled his White House economic team, consisting of economists Cecilia Rouse, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey.
Melania Trump’s 2020 holiday display spotlights essential workers
‘Tis the holiday season at the White House. All of the halls, from the East Room to the Red Room, were decked by over 125 volunteers this weekend and unveiled Monday to feature classic holiday décor with an “America the Beautiful” theme for the Trumps’ final Christmas in office.
Highlights of this year’s display — coming during a global pandemic — include a tribute to essential workers in the Red Room, including a light-up ceramic post office, and a tree with ornaments celebrating frontline workers, including a trash truck, scientist, caregiver, lab coat and nurse hat.
Wednesday, Nov. 25
President Trump grants full pardon to Michael Flynn
President Trump issued a pardon for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, taking direct aim at the Russia investigation.
The president announced the pardon in a tweet saying “it is my great honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a full pardon.” Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about the Russia investigation. Officials from the Department of Justice said they were “not consulted” and they “were given a heads-up today.”
Biden appeals for unity on Thanksgiving eve
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden offered a message of hope and unity in a Thanksgiving eve address to the nation. The tone was sober in this time of a COVID pandemic. But it was the tone Biden has been using since election day November 3.
Still, President Trump asserted that the election should be overturned, a futile call but one that stokes the divisions Biden is trying to overcome.
Pennsylvania halts vote certification
A Pennsylvania appeals court judge ordered state officials on Wednesday to halt any further steps toward certifying election results, a day after Gov. Tom Wolf said he had certified Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the order from Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, a Republican, could hold up the certification of state and local contests on the ballot or interrupt the scheduled Dec. 14 meeting of the state’s 20 electors. McCullough scheduled a hearing for Friday.
Tuesday, Nov. 24
Biden introduces national security team
One day after President Trump gave the go-ahead for the GSA to begin transitioning, President-elect Joe Biden moved quickly to introduce his national security team.
His team includes Tony Blinken, a career diplomat, as Secretary of State. For the first time ever, a Latino immigrant, Alejandro Mayorkoas from Cuba, will head Homeland Security. Avril Haines becomes the first woman to serve as Director of National Intelligence. John Kerry will take a full-time job with Biden as the nation’s climate leader.
“It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure and it’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,” Biden said.
Trump touts stock market boom
President Trump made a brief appearance on Tuesday to tout the stock market. “The stock market’s just broken 30,000. Never been broken that number. That’s a scared number 30,000. Nobody thought they’d ever see it,” Trump said.
Later, President Trump did the same thing at the traditional pardoning of two turkeys. This year it was corn and cob who were saved. However, the president has not agreed to hand over power at all, even taking to Twitter late-Monday to say he “will never concede to fake ballots.”
Pennsylvania certifies election results
The Pennsylvania Department of State certified the results of the November 3 election for president and vice president Tuesday, which declared Joe Biden the winner. This followed the certifications of the presidential vote submitted by all of the state’s 67 counties late Monday.
As required by federal law, Governor Tom Wolf signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president of the United States.
Nevada Supreme Court confirms election results
Meanwhile, the Nevada Supreme Court made Biden’s win in the state official on Tuesday, approving the state’s final canvass of the Nov. 3 election. The unanimous action by the seven nonpartisan justices sends to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak results that will deliver six electoral votes from the western U.S. battleground state to Biden.
Monday, Nov. 23
Federal agency allows formal Biden presidential transition to begin
The General Services Administration determined Monday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election.
This announcement clears the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allows Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20. Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said in a tweet that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.
Biden names several cabinet members
On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden moved forward in naming some of his top cabinet members and advisors, including his picks for secretary of state and U.N. ambassador, even as President Trump continues to block the formal transition process.
John Kerry, a former secretary of state, will lead the incoming administration’s effort to combat climate change. Alejandro Mayorkas will be nominated as the secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. Biden also plans to nominate Antony Blinken as his secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning. Biden has also chosen former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary.
Michigan certifies Biden’s victory
Michigan election officials on Monday certified Democrat Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the state amid President Donald Trump’s continued attempts to deny the results of the election.
Trump no public events
The president has largely hunkered down inside the White House since Election Day — the last time he took questions from reporters — and had no public events on his schedule again on Monday.
The Board of State Canvassers, which has two Republicans and two Democrats, confirmed the results on a 3-0 vote with one abstention. Allies of Trump and losing GOP Senate candidate John James had urged the panel to delay voting for two weeks to audit votes in heavily Democratic Wayne County, home to Detroit.
Friday, Nov. 20
Trump makes appearance
At a rare public appearance Friday, President Donald Trump repeated without evidence his mantra since his defeat at the polls, “I won the election.”
Biden meets with Schumer, Pelosi
Meanwhile, the man who becomes the 46th president two months from today, Joe Biden, met with the nation’s two top Democrats in Washington.
Biden met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Pelosi said she’s ready to step in if the Trump administration continues to refuse cooperation in the transition process.
Trump did all he could on Friday to plant doubt in an election that has already been decided and left him the loser. His legal challenges continue, though a dozen of the president’s lawsuits have already been dismissed or withdrawn.
Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for COVID
Also on Friday, the coronavirus infected another person close to the president. This time, his son Donald Trump Jr.
A spokesperson says the president’s son tested positive at the start of the week and has been quarantining at his cabin. The 42-year-old is said to be asymptomatic.
Rudy Giuliani’s son tests positive for COVID
Meanwhile, the son of Rudy Giuliani, Andrew Giuliani, also tested positive on Friday. He’s a White House aide and said he’s experiencing mild symptoms and is quarantining.
He was reportedly at the Trump campaign headquarters several times in the last week and was at a packed Republican news conference on Thursday, where few people used masks.
COVID Vaccine Update
The president also took credit for the progress made toward a coronavirus vaccine.
Pfizer announced on Friday it has officially applied for emergency use authorization — putting the fate of its vaccine in the hands of the FDA.
Thursday, Nov. 19
Biden meets with governors
Joe Biden expressed concern Thursday that President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempt to block the peaceful transition of power at the White House has hindered the flow of information about programs to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine.
“Unfortunately, my administration hasn’t been able to get everything we need,” the president-elect said during a video conference with the National Governors Association’s leadership team, which includes five Republicans and four Democrats.
He specifically cited Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s partnership with private pharmaceutical companies to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
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.”
Trump summons Michigan GOP leaders to White House
President Donald Trump summoned Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders to the White House for an extraordinary meeting Friday amid a long shot GOP push to subvert the democratic process that handed the battleground state to Democrat Joe Biden.
Two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Trump invited Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield. They agreed to go, according to a state official aware of the leaders’ plans. The two officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing private conversations.
US unemployment claims increase
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week to 742,000, the first increase in five weeks and a sign that the resurgent viral outbreak is likely slowing the economy and forcing more companies to cut jobs.
The Labor Department’s report Thursday showed that applications for benefits rose from 711,000 in the previous week. Claims had soared to 6.9 million in March when the pandemic first intensified. Before the pandemic, applications typically hovered about 225,000 a week.
Wednesday, Nov. 18
Biden’s DIY transition proceeds
President-elect Joe Biden has been forced to seek extraordinary workarounds to prepare for the exploding public health threat and evolving national security challenges he will inherit in just nine weeks. Blocked from the official intelligence briefing traditionally afforded to incoming presidents, Biden gathered virtually on Tuesday with a collection of intelligence, defense and diplomatic experts.
He’s also expected to hold his own meetings with vaccine makers this week to help determine his own distribution plan. Two weeks after the election, Trump continues to block Biden’s access to his administration’s pandemic and national security briefings, falsely claiming without evidence that Biden is not the legitimate president-elect.
Biden congratulates Pelosi
President-elect Joe Biden is congratulating Nancy Pelosi for her nomination to serve as House speaker for another term. Biden’s transition team says the incoming president and Pelosi spoke on Wednesday following House Democrats’ vote.
Biden told the speaker that “he looks forward to working with her and Democratic leadership in the House on a shared agenda to get COVID-19 under control and build our economy back better.” Pelosi will serve as Biden’s most powerful ally on Capitol Hill over the next two years.
Trump pays $3 million for recount of 2 Wisconsin counties
President Donald Trump’s campaign has paid $3 million for a recount of two heavily Democratic Wisconsin counties, saying Wednesday that they were the site of the “worst irregularities” although no evidence of wrongdoing has been presented and state elections officials have said there was none.
Trump paid for the recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties overnight Tuesday and planned to submit the required paperwork to trigger the recount on Wednesday, the campaign said in a statement.
Tuesday, Nov. 17
Biden filling out top White House team with 2020 presidential campaign vets
President-elect Joe Biden announced a raft of top White House staff positions on Tuesday, drawing from the senior ranks of his campaign and some of his closest confidants to fill out an increasingly diverse White House leadership team.
Biden confirmed 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 hold senior roles in the new administration. Richmond will leave his Louisiana congressional seat to fill the White House job.
The president-elect also announced that Mike Donilon, a longtime Biden confidant, will serve as a senior adviser; Dana Remus, the campaign’s current general counsel, will be counsel to the president; Julie Chavez Rodriguez, one of Biden’s deputy campaign managers, will serve as director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; and Annie Tomasini, Biden’s current traveling chief of staff, will serve as the director of Oval Office operations.
President Trump fires cybersecurity chief after he said election was ‘most secure in US history’
President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election. Trump fired Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was “highly inaccurate.”
The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, comes as Trump is refusing to recognize the victory of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and removing high-level officials seen as insufficiently loyal.
Pentagon to cut troop levels to 2,500 in Iraq, Afghanistan
Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on Tuesday announced plans to reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying the decision fulfills President Donald Trump’s pledge to bring forces home even as Republicans and U.S. allies warn against a rash withdrawal.
The new plan will accelerate troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan in Trump’s final days in office, despite arguments from senior military officials in favor of a slower, more methodical pullout. Trump has refused to concede his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, who takes office Jan. 20, just five days after the troop withdrawals are slated to finish.
Biden could face a student loan mess if Trump allows pandemic relief to expire
Student loan borrowers haven’t had to make payments since March — but that piece of federal pandemic relief is set to expire on December 31, unless President Donald Trump or Congress act to extend it.
If neither push the deadline back, millions of student loan payments will come due a couple of weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20. Even if Biden reinstates the pause retroactively, it could create confusion for borrowers as well as a mess for student loan processors who aren’t built to suddenly stop or start payments — all while the economic recovery slows and Covid-19 cases surge.
And either way, Biden will be left with a choice: Keep Trump’s policy in place, or go bigger and cancel debt altogether, a step some Democrats argue Biden can take without Congress.
Monday, Nov. 16
Biden urges Trump to aid transition amid exploding COVID-19 pandemic
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday warned of dire consequences if President Donald Trump 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.
The remarks marked Biden’s toughest comments to date on Trump’s failure to acknowledge his election loss and cooperate with the incoming administration for a peaceful transfer of power.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden told reporters during a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden and his aides have emphasized the importance of being briefed on White House efforts to control the pandemic and distribute prospective vaccines. The Trump administration is working on its own distribution plan, while Biden’s chief of staff indicated his transition team will proceed with their own planning separately because of the obstruction.
Biden expected to name 1st wave of White House senior staff
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name a number of senior White House staff as soon as this week, a group that will likely include Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., a key surrogate and his campaign’s first national co-chair.
Richmond, 47, is expected to be named to a senior advisory role in the White House, a position that could mirror his work in the inner circle of Biden’s campaign and transition team, which he also co-chairs. Richmond’s exact title and job description are not yet finalized, sources said. He’s scheduled to hold a press conference about his plans in New Orleans on Tuesday morning.
GSA official blocking Biden’s transition appears to privately plan post-Trump career
ABC News has learned the top General Services Administration official who is blocking Biden’s transition team from accessing government resources appears to be looking for a new job.
Emily Murphy, the head of the GSA, recently sent a message to an associate inquiring about employment opportunities in 2021, a move that some in Washington interpret as at least somewhat acknowledging that the current administration soon will be gone.
Friday, Nov. 13
On Friday, President Trump delivered an update on the COVID-19 vaccine in his first remarks since Biden’s projected victory. The president made his remarks outside at the Rose Garden, saying that a COVID vaccine will be widely available for all Americans by April.
However, he made an exception for New York, where the president said the vaccine will not be delivered due to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The governor responded by saying, “There will be no delay.”
Final projected electoral votes
With every state now called, President-elect Joe Biden increased his electoral college lead over President Trump.
ABC News now projects Arizona and Georgia for Biden, and North Carolina and Alaska for Trump.
That brings the final projected electoral college tally to 306 for Biden, and 232 for President Trump.
Thursday, Nov. 12
President-elect Joe Biden is facing unprecedented obstruction. President Donald Trump and his staunch Republican supporters are still willing to accept the outcome of Biden’s decisive election victory. Trump is refusing to concede the race and is blocking normal transition funding and information — including critical intelligence briefings.
But the president-elect is still moving forward with his transition team.
Biden’s transition team announced Thursday that he spoke by phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, thanking them for their congratulations and expressing “his commitment to uniting the country after a hard-fought campaign.”
The three spoke about “intensifying” the country’s coronavirus response and coping with the economic fallout the pandemic has inflected. They also discussed the “urgent need” to use the lame duck congressional session to approve bills on slowing the spread of COVID-19, as well as economic relief for “working families and small businesses, support for state and local governments trying to keep front-line workers on the payroll,” expanded unemployment insurance and expanded access to affordable health care.
Biden said Tuesday that he had not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though the two have been friends for years.
Pope Francis called to congratulate Biden on Thursday. Biden will become America’s second Roman-Catholic president.
Biden’s campaign said in a statement that the president-elect thanked the pontiff for “extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation” for Francis’ “leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world.”
Biden also said he’d like to work with the pope to further “a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants.”
COVID in the White House
Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Lewandowski recently traveled to Pennsylvania to assist Trump’s efforts to contest the state’s election results. He said Thursday he believes he was infected in Philadelphia and he’s not experiencing any symptoms.
Lewandowski appeared with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani at an event last Saturday outside a landscaping company and lobbed unfounded accusations of voter fraud as the race was called for Trump’s challenger, now-President-elect Joe Biden.
Lewandowski was also at the election night party at the White House last week linked to several virus cases.
Wednesday, Nov. 11
President-elect Joe Biden says he’s not worried that President Donald Trump has broken with tradition by not letting him read the ultra-secret daily brief containing the nation’s most sensitive intelligence before inauguration.
Biden says he can’t make national security decisions yet anyway so he doesn’t need it. National security and intelligence experts hope Trump eventually decides to share the so-called President’s Daily Brief with Biden. They say U.S. adversaries can take advantage of the country during an American presidential transition and key foreign issues will be bearing down on Biden when he walks in the Oval Office.
Biden stepped away from his closed-door planning only to honor the nation’s fallen soldiers for a Veterans Day tribute at the Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia. The president-elect, whose late son, Beau, served in the Delaware Army National Guard, made no public remarks at the small ceremony.
Meanwhile, President Trump appeared in public for the first time in five days when he visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
Georgia’s secretary of state on Wednesday announced an audit of presidential election results that he said will trigger a full hand recount. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a news conference that his office wants the process to begin by the end of the week and he expects it to take until Nov. 20, which is the certification deadline.
President-elect Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes out of nearly 5 million votes in the state. Nearly all ballots have been counted, though counties have until Friday to certify their results.
Tuesday, Nov. 10
Biden says ‘nothing going to stop’ transition process
Vowing “to get right to work,” President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday shrugged off President Donald Trump’s fierce refusal to accept the election outcome as “inconsequential,” even as Democrats elsewhere warned that the Republican president’s actions were dangerous.
Raising unsupported claims of voter fraud, Trump has blocked the incoming president from receiving intelligence briefings and withheld federal funding intended to help facilitate the transfer of power. Trump’s resistance, backed by senior Republicans in Washington and across the country, could also prevent background investigations and security clearances for prospective staff and access to federal agencies to discuss transition planning.
As some Democrats and former Republican officials warned of serious consequences, Biden sought to lower the national temperature as he addressed reporters from a makeshift transition headquarters near his home in downtown Wilmington.
President-elect Biden spoke about the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether the act’s individual mandate — which requires Americans to have health insurance — is unconstitutional. The Trump administration and 18 Republican-led states are hoping the Conservative-leaning court will invalidate the entire law.
But Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts seem to be questioning why the case was brought to the high court. Roberts said it’s not the Supreme Court’s job to do something Congress has repeatedly failed to do.
If Kavanaugh and Roberts side with the Liberals on the court, 20 million Americans will be allowed to keep their health insurance.
Monday, Nov. 9
Transition of power
As the U.S. hit more than 10 million COVID-19 cases on Monday, President-elect Joe Biden implored Americans to wear a mask as he kicked off his transition to power with his own coronavirus task force.
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnel said President Trump is well within his rights to challenge the election and he is treating the election as still uncertain. But many have moved on, including Republican leaders like George W. Bush.
Several Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, congratulated Trump’s Operation Warp Speed after the news that Pfizer’s new vaccine could be 90% effective.
But the CEO of Pfizer said his company did not participation in Operation Warp Speed and Pfizer paid for its own research to avoid any government interference during testing.
Officials with COVID
The pandemic continues to spread amid the Trump administration. HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a doctor, tested positive for coronavirus Monday morning after having symptoms. He attended an election night watch party at the White House.
Dave Bossie, an adviser to President Trump who is leading the legal challenges to the election vote, also tested positive. He had just traveled to Arizona to oversee the vote count there.
The latest officials to test positive come just two days after White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and four others on the staff tested positive.
Trump fires Esper
President Donald Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday, an unprecedented move by a president struggling to accept election defeat and angry at a Pentagon leader he believes wasn’t loyal enough.
The decision was widely expected as Trump had grown increasingly unhappy with Esper over the summer, including sharp differences between them over the use of the military during the civil unrest in June. But the move could unsettle international allies and Pentagon leadership and injects another element of uncertainty to a rocky transition period as Joe Biden prepares to assume the presidency.
Sunday, Nov. 8
Biden claims victory
On the night that Joe Biden claimed victory in the heated presidential race against Donald Trump, the President-elect issued a message of unity.
Biden’s first major action will be to appoint a Coronavirus Task Force and unify a country that has been split by party lines.
It was Biden’s home state of Pennsylvania that put him over the top, 48 years to the day he was first elected to the U.S. Senate at the age of 29. In 13 days, Biden will be 78.
Biden’s declaration of victory prompted celebrations in New York City and across the country. When he addressed his supporters on Saturday night, he had received a record of nearly 75 million votes.
History in the making
However, Biden is not the only one to make history. Senator Kamala Harris also made history as the first woman to be elected Vice President, and the first woman of color to hold that job.
Meanwhile, President Trump continues to double down on his statements that he will take legal action to expose potential voter fraud from mail-in ballots.
Friday, Nov. 6
The race to 270
Democrat Joe Biden was on the cusp of winning the presidency on Friday as he opened up narrow leads over President Donald Trump in the critical battlegrounds of Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Those put Biden in a stronger position to capture the 270 Electoral College votes needed to take the White House. The winner will lead a country facing a historic set of challenges, including a surging pandemic and deep political polarization.
The focus on Pennsylvania, where Biden led Trump by more than 9,000 votes, and Georgia, where Biden led by more than 1,500, came as Americans entered a third full day after the election without knowing who will lead them for the next four years. The prolonged process added to the anxiety of a nation whose racial and cultural divides were inflamed during the heated campaign.
Battleground of Pennsylvania
With Georgia headed to a recount and the western toss-up states still counting votes, the focus is on Pennsylvania — something both candidates have been talking about for weeks.
The ballot count in Pennsylvania reached a milestone on Friday evening, as the state’s top election official said most mail-in and absentee ballots had been counted.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said the process to count provisional ballots is now underway. Boockvar said the county boards of election will have to individually evaluate each provisional ballot and decide within seven days if it meets the standard to be counted.
That will be done by verifying the voter was registered to vote in the precinct the ballot was cast, and that the voter did not cast a mail-in ballot before requesting a provisional ballot at a polling place.
Biden is currently up by more than 14,000 votes in Pennsylvania. If he wins the state, he will become president-elect.
Battleground of Georgia
The last Democratic candidate to win Georgia’s electoral votes was Bill Clinton in 1992. That was also the last time a sitting president was voted out of office.
So how did it turn blue? Many Democrats are crediting Stacey Abrams. After she lost the race for governor, she formed a nonprofit to increase voter registration in communities of color and registered tens of thousands of new Democrats.
It was the absentee ballots in John Lewis’ district that pushed Biden ahead in Georgia. The civil rights activist and long-time congressman feuded with Trump right up until his death in July.
The NYPD says it is prepared for any protests Friday night and into the weekend. On Thursday night, 19 people were arrested and a homeless man is accused of assaulting an officer with a chain near Greenwich Village.
Others were arrested for trying to stop police from arresting the man. Meanwhile, another man was arrested in possession of a knife at separate chaotic protest near Union Square.
Thursday, Nov. 5
Still counting votes
Democrat Joe Biden pushed closer Thursday to the 270 Electoral College votes he needed to win the White House while President Donald Trump escalated his unproven accusations of voter fraud and promises of legal action.
While Pennsylvania could have the majority of its votes counted Thursday night, if Biden were to win Pennsylvania, he will be the president-elect.
Trump is still ahead in Pennsylvania and Georgia, but his leads have shrunk. Biden is holding onto razor thin leads in Arizona and Nevada.
While Trump has tweeted about fraud and filed lawsuits, Biden seems more willing to wait for the votes.
The Bush v. Gore election was not finally decided until December. By contrast, while there may be recounts and court challenges, the remaining battleground states hope to have vote totals by the end of the weekend.
At least 25 people are facing charges following a pro-democracy demonstration in Manhattan that turned violent overnight into Thursday morning.
Hundreds of peaceful protesters marched in the streets of Greenwich Village demanding that all votes be counted. After most of the crowd had dispersed, dozens of remaining demonstrators began clashing with police, setting fires and confronting officers.
Wednesday, Nov. 4
On a day of electoral uncertainty and legal action, Joe Biden emerged as the apparent winner in Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday, reclaiming key parts of the “blue wall” that slipped away from Democrats four years ago and narrowing President Donald Trump’s pathway to reelection.
A full day after Election Day, neither candidate had cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. Margins remained tight in several fiercely contested states including Pennsylvania. But Biden’s victory in Wisconsin and Michigan loomed as an important step to the presidency.
Democrats Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones are the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress after winning their elections Tuesday to seats representing the South Bronx and parts of New York City’s northern suburbs, respectively.
Torres claimed victory in his race against Patrick Delices for the 15th Congressional District seat vacated by Jose Serrano, who recently retired. Jones defeated Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman and Conservative Party candidate Yehudis Gottesfeld in New York’s 17th Congressional District, which includes all of Rockland County and portions of central and northwestern Westchester County.
Races on Long Island
Republicans on Long Island are celebrating Wednesday after many local races show Republicans with leads over their Democratic challengers.
In the race for the seat of retiring Congressman Peter King, Republican Andrew Garbarino is declaring victory over his Democratic challenger Jackie Gordon. He’s ahead by 46,000 votes or 59 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is declaring victory over his Democratic challenger Nancy Goroff. Zeldin has 61 percent of the vote compared to Goroff’s 38 percent. Zeldin said he is looking forward to his fourth term.
A couple hundred demonstrators took to the streets of Manhattan on Wednesday, the day after the presidential election, to support “Count Every Vote.”
Scattered protests also took place from Washington, D.C., to Washington state as votes were counted, but there were no signs of widespread unrest or violence linked to the U.S. election.
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