BY: LIBBY CATHEY, LAUREN KING, ADIA ROBINSON AND JACK ARNHOLZ, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — President-elect Joe Biden is moving forward with transition plans, capping a tumultuous and tension-filled campaign during a historic pandemic against President Donald Trump, who still refuses to concede the election two weeks after Biden was projected as the winner and is taking extraordinary moves to challenge the results.
Running out of legal alternatives to override the election loss, Trump invited Michigan’s top Republican state lawmakers to visit the White House on Friday, as he and allies pursue a pressure campaign to overturn results in a state Biden won by more than 150,000 votes.
Despite Trump’s roadblocks and his administration refusing to recognize Biden as the president-elect, Biden is forging ahead, meeting with transition advisers on Saturday as he prepares to announce key Cabinet positions.
Though Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud, he and his campaign haven’t been able to provide the evidence to substantiate their claims and the majority of their lawsuits have already resulted in unfavorable outcomes.
- RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Michigan GOP chair pushing to delay state certification 2 weeks
- AOC, ‘Squad’ pressure Biden in intraparty feud
- Unlike Biden, Trump had a ‘fast and furious’ transition 4 years ago
Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern.
Nov 21, 2:09 pm
AOC, ‘Squad’ pressure Biden in intraparty feud
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became an undisputed congressional star after her 2018 primary upset win followed by her championing of the an ambitious legislative package to address climate change quickly dismissed by Republicans and Democrats alike.
AOC, the unofficial leader of the so-called Squad, has reinforcements in the coming next session of Congress, with Reps.-elect Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones and Cori Bush joining the push to address climate change – complicating Joe Biden’s presidency before it even begins.
In a preview, she and the rest of the Squad rallied outside the DNC headquarters on Thursday – firing the first shots of the intraparty civil war as they demanded the Biden deliver on his campaign pledge to enact climate justice – despite pressure from corporate lobbyists.
Ocasio-Cortez claims she’s secured a commitment from the president-elect on a $2 trillion climate plan – which may be more than Biden can deliver given the political divide on Capitol Hill.
A month ago, Biden said that he does not support the Green New Deal, though he has laid out his own plan for addressing climate change.
-ABC News’ John Parkinson
Nov 21, 1:40 pm
Unlike Biden, Trump had a ‘fast and furious’ transition 4 years ago
Barely twelve hours after television networks declared Donald Trump the next president of the United States four years ago, officials at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, D.C., quietly launched a new operation – not to capture drug smugglers or human traffickers, but to capture the attention of the Trump appointees who would be taking control of government.
“[W]e are moving fast and furious here at HQ to be prepared for the new Administration,” the agency’s head of law enforcement operations told colleagues in an email on Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the election.
The scramble that privately unfolded across government in the days immediately after the presidential election four years ago – and during almost every peaceful transition of power before then – has yet to materialize this year, as President Donald Trump continues to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory and Trump administration officials wait to officially declare Biden the winner.
“It’s a study in contrasts,” one current U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Hundreds of Border Patrol emails obtained by ABC News through a Freedom of Information Act request offer a rare glimpse into just how far government agencies usually go and how quickly they take action to prepare for a new administration – efforts that current officials say are on hold right now across the U.S. government.
“As we all know, one of President-elect Trump’s central campaign themes was ‘border security.’ With our mission a clear priority… [w]e must be ready to provide the best and most accurate information as quickly as possible in order to take advantage of every opportunity to describe who we are, what we do and what we need to get our mission accomplished,” the Border Patrol’s acting deputy chief of operations in Washington, D.C, wrote to other senior officials on Nov. 10, 2016, two days after the election four years ago.
-ABC News’ Mike Levine
Nov 21, 1:03 pm
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Michigan GOP chair pushing to delay state certification 2 weeks
Two days before the Michigan state board of canvassers is set to meet to weigh whether to certify the election in the state, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox submitted a letter to the four-member bipartisan body asking to delay certification for two weeks and first audit the results in Wayne County.
“This board faces a stark choice: it can either ignore numerical anomalies and credible reports of procedural irregularities, leaving the distrust and sense of procedural disenfranchisement felt by many Michigan voters to fester for years; or it can adjourn for fourteen days to allow for a full audit and investigation into those anomalies and irregularities before certifying the results of the 2020 General Election, allowing all Michiganders to have confidence in the results,” the two GOP chairs write in the letter obtained by ABC News.
McDaniel and Cox are asking the board, which is meeting on Monday, to grant the request made by Republican Senate candidate John James to allow for “a full, transparent audit” of Wayne County’s results before certifying the election statewide.
James sought to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, who was projected by ABC News to win reelection.
“The procedural and accounting irregularities identified by the James Campaign’s request are credible, deeply concerning, and threaten to undermine Michigander’s faith in the integrity of the November 2020 General Election. To simply gloss over those irregularities now without a thorough audit would only foster feelings of distrust among Michigan’s electorate,” they continue.
They point to the audit completed in Georgia before the results were certified, and they also quote Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as saying “with the margin being so close, it will require a full by-hand recount in each county.”
But every state is different.
In Michigan, the secretary of state made clear on Friday that by state law, it is impossible to audit the results before the election is certified because “officials do not have legal access to the documents needed to complete audits until the certification.”
Also, the margin in Michigan is nowhere near as close as Georgia’s, with Joe Biden currently leading by more than 154,000 votes in Michigan, compared to just over 12,000 votes in Georgia.
“We implore you to listen to the pleas of your voters and order the audit,” the letter from the GOP chairs reads.
The call for an audit in Wayne County, which is home to Detroit, a city where Black residents make up nearly 80% of the population, comes after a head-spinning reversal from two Republican members of the county board of canvassers earlier this week. The two GOP members of the board first voted against certification of the county’s results, citing precincts with “out-of-balance” reports, meaning that the number of votes cast and the number of voters signed in at the polling place were mismatched. Hours later, they backtracked and voted for certification, only to seek to rescind that vote the following day — a move that has been disputed by legal experts.
The number of votes at issue in Wayne County is also too small to influence the outcome of the election. In Wayne County, Biden is ahead by over 300,000 votes with nearly 70% of the vote.
The letter is the latest move by Republicans to sow doubt over the election’s results in the battleground. In an extraordinary move on Friday, President Trump met with top state lawmakers from Michigan, part of a strategy that now appears to increasingly rely on pressuring GOP state leaders to try to overturn the results of the election.
After nearly two hours in the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield released a joint statement reiterating, “we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors.”
-ABC News’ Kendall Karson, Katherine Faulders, Will Steakin
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