Political

Trump-Biden transition updates: Trump administration recognizes Biden’s win

Bet_Noire/iStocBy LIBBY CATHEY, ADIA ROBINSON and LAUREN KING, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 58 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Nov 23, 8:41 pm
Trump campaign and its allies have lost at least 30 cases since Election Day

Since Election Day, the Trump campaign and its allies have lost at least 30 cases brought in an effort to overturn the results of the election, according to an ABC News count. The campaign itself has filed 19 lawsuits across five states — 17 of which have been lost so far, either denied, dismissed or withdrawn.

The campaign has won one of its lawsuits. One lawsuit from Nevada has not yet been decided.

That lawsuit asks a Nevada judge to either invalidate the election results in the state and declare Trump’s electors officially elected or to null the election results entirely and prevent either candidate from receiving the state’s six electoral votes. Legal experts told ABC News the strategy has virtually no chance of being taken seriously.

Nov 23, 6:55 pm
Trump, Biden team respond to GSA saying transition can begin

Donald Trump responded to Joe Biden’s ascertainment on Twitter Monday evening by first thanking his General Services Administration appointee Emily Murphy for her service and, in a direct contraction of her letter, which said there was no political influence behind her decision, took credit for telling Murphy to move forward with the process.
 
“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country,” Trump tweeted, adding that his case “STRONGLY continues.” However, Trump hasn’t been able to substantiate any claims of voter fraud — at least 30 lawsuits from Trump and his allies have ended in court losses.

“Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same,” Trump said in a tweet.
 
Biden transition official Yohannes Abraham also reacted to the news, calling the decision “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”

Nov 23, 6:20 pm
GSA determines Biden apparent winner of election

ABC News can report that the General Services Administration has informed the Biden camp that he has been determined to be the apparent winner of the election.

The move allows the president-elect’s transition team access to government resources and comes after Biden warned that American lives may be at risk without a formal transition.

Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, a 2017 Trump appointee, sent Biden a letter Monday afternoon telling him his transition could begin. She also defended her position as she’s come under fire from Democrats in recent weeks for delaying the process.

“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” she said in the letter to Biden.

A transition official for Biden confirmed to ABC News he has received the letter.

Nov 23, 6:19 pm
Election workers push for board to certify vote in contentious meeting

After more than three hours, Michigan’s state canvassing board interrupted an at-times contentious session of public comments in order to vote to certify the election.

Before the four board members voted, the meeting opened for public comments, which included testimonials from state and city election officials, attorneys, poll workers, clerks and volunteers. Aaron Van Langevelde, the key vote for certification and the Republican vice chair of the board, asked one former state elections director, who is considered an elections expert, about the bounds of the board’s power in an early and telling exchange.

“I mean, we’re not a court here, we don’t have judicial power. We don’t have the authority to conduct a trial here on whether or not election fraud occurred. Am I correct?” Van Langevelde asked.

Thomas replied, “You are correct.”

In his own exchange with Thomas, Norm Shinkle, the Republican canvasser who voted to abstain, was rebuffed when he asked under what circumstances could the board delay certification — a question that tipped his hand.

“You can’t vote no. There is no ‘no’ in this circumstance. Each of you play a necessary role. You’re at the pinnacle of Michigan’s democracy,” Thomas said. “Everyone doesn’t get a trophy.”

A slate of clerks and election workers from across the state also pushed the board to certify the results throughout the three hours, arguing that any vote other than “yes” would defy the will of the voters.

“The time for political games as over the eyes of our nation are on the four of you today. They’re watching, and they’re waiting,” argued Barb Byrum, the Ingham County clerk. “Failure to certify these election results will signal to the country that democracy is dying in Michigan.”

The state now moves forward with formalizing the election results, and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will certify the slate of 16 electors for Biden. A post-election audit is also planned by the secretary of state.

Nov 23, 6:19 pm
Georgia counties can start recount 9 a.m. Tuesday and must finish by midnight Dec. 2

Georgia’s voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling held an afternoon press conference on Zoom to update reporters on the Trump campaign-requested machine recount. He said he had just wrapped an approximately hour-long meeting with the counties that went over the process.
 
Counties cannot begin the recount until 9 a.m. Tuesday. They must complete the recount by midnight on Dec. 2.
 
Sterling said this deadline accounts for Thanksgiving and that several counties, including three of the biggest, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties, have an election on Dec. 1. He said some counties will likely need to work through the weekend.
 
Sterling’s advice to the counties as they undertake a third count of the approximately five million votes cast in the presidential election was, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

“You don’t want to rush yourself and cause mistakes and errors that you have to go back and fix, so slow is smooth, smooth is fast because the smoother you do this, the better off you’re going to be,” he said.
 
Counties are required to post notice of when they are doing the actual machine re-tabulation on their websites, on their respective election office and by notifying the secretary of state’s office.
 
Sterling made the important point that while parties are allowed to designate monitors to observe the recount, “ballots cannot be contested in this process.”

While doing the recount, counties will need to keep ballots separated by type: absentee by mail ballots, early in person ballots, election day ballots and provisional ballots. Unlike the audit, counties can release results while the recount is still ongoing statewide.
 
Asked again if they expect the outcome of the election — that Joe Biden is the winner — to change, Sterling said that’s not their expectation.
 
“Now, the possibility of it changing, you know, it’s 2020, you never know,” he said. “Crazy things happen but the likelihood is very low. We don’t expect it to change, but you never know for certain.”

Nov 23, 5:24 pm
Michigan secretary of state, top Republican react to vote certification

Following Michigan’s board of canvassers certifying the 2020 election results, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson lauded the decision as a win for democracy.
 
“Today’s vote of the State Board of Canvassers to certify Michigan’s November election confirms the truth: the election was fair and secure, and the results accurately reflect the will of the voters,” she said in a statement.

“Our democracy, like the election officials who administer it, is resilient.” she added. “Today it and they survived an unprecedented attack on its integrity.”

One of Michigan’s top Republicans, House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who met with Trump on Friday, applauded the board for certifying the results, saying that the “democratic process can move forward.”
 
“The Board fulfilled its legal duties today in certifying the results and now our democratic process can move forward. This is America at work,” he said.
 
He also bashed Democrats and the media for pushing “conspiracy theories” about the possibility of the legislature intervening.
 
“I am also glad the conspiracy theories pushed by far too many Democrats and some talking heads in the media for attention and personal or political gain have finally been put to rest,” he said. “As we have been saying consistently for weeks, the legislature will uphold the law and respect this result as it works to improve the process for next time.”

Nov 23, 4:55 pm
Michigan board of state canvassers votes to certify election

Michigan’s board of state canvassers voted Monday to certify the results of the 2020 election, delivering a stinging blow to President Trump.

The canvassing board affirmed Biden’s victory in the key battleground state with three “aye” votes.

Biden’s lead over Trump was more than 150,000 votes.

The highly-anticipated vote caps off a dramatic string of events that included unprecedented reversals by one obscure county elections board and an extraordinary White House meeting, in which Trump personally met with top Republican Michigan lawmakers just days before the board convened.

One Republican member of the state board, Norman Shinkle, a longtime Republican activist from Ingham County who prior to the meeting revealed he was leaning against certifying, voted to abstain.

The other GOP member of the board, Vice Chair Aaron Van Langevelde, joined the two Democratic members of the board.

“I think any allegations of voter fraud should be taken seriously and investigated. I believe in this case, a post-election audit should be conducted,” Van Langevelde said. “State law is clear that we do not have that authority and other entities do. This board must respect the authority entrusted to it, and follow the law as written. We must not attempt to exercise power we simply don’t have.”

He added, “This board must do its part to uphold the rule of law and comply with our legal duty to certify this election. I will be supporting the motion.”

Nov 23, 4:28 pm
Biden, Harris meet with mayors amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met virtually Monday afternoon with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as their transition looks to continue its outreach to local officials who are dealing with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“You walk the streets of America, where people recognize you and look to you for confidence, look to you for a sense of security that everything’s gonna be OK,” Harris said. “You are the ones who take the heat on a daily basis. You are recognizable as the leaders of their government and the place where they live, the place where they worship, the place where their children go to school.”

Biden then spoke briefly, joking with the mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born, about the town naming a street “Joe Biden Way.”  He told the virtual group that he hopes to forge a partnership based on a “strong sense of common purpose” between cities and the federal government.

“As we head into this Thanksgiving, in a very dark point with cases and hospitalizations and deaths spiking, I want you to know that we’re here for you and we will listen to you and work with you. And this is the first priority I’m going to have once I’m sworn in,” Biden said.

The president-elect then went through his plans to slow the spread of COVID-19, including increased testing capacity, universal masking and discussed the slew of other challenges facing local officials.

He praised mayors for doing the practical — and not partisan — work of keeping their citizens safe and noted he has always worked to have a good relationship with local officials from his time as a city councilman, U.S. senator and vice president.

Biden also pledged his support to cities over the next few months noting that director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Chavez Rodriguez will work with mayors as the point person.

“Blue cities, red cities, It doesn’t matter,” Biden said. “They’re all-American cities, American communities who deserve the full support of an American president, I promise you that.”

“Every mayor deserves a president who is going to be a true partner. And the bottom line is we can’t do this without you,” he added.

Nov 23, 4:16 pm
Trump campaign loses five more cases in Pa. Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued opinions Monday rejecting five lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign that were aimed at invalidating 8,329 ballots cast in the 2020 presidential contest over technical concerns.
 
Three justices wrote in the majority that, “no allegations of fraud or illegality” came up in examination of the ballots.
 
“While failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters,” Justice Christine L. Donohue wrote for the majority.

Two other justices joined Donohue, while other members of the court issued separate opinions. In one separate opinion, Justice David N. Wecht wrote that while he agrees technically deficient ballots should be counted this year, he does not believe the absence of a date on the declaration “should be overlooked as a ‘minor irregularity.'”

Wecht wrote, “in future elections, I would treat the date and sign requirement as mandatory … with the omission of either item sufficient without more to invalidate the ballot in question.” Wecht concluded his concurring and dissenting opinion with the “hope that the General Assembly sees fit to refine and clarify the Election Code” in the future.
 
In a second concurring a dissenting opinion, Justice Dougherty, joined by Chief Justice Saylor and Justice Mundy, wrote that the justices agree the deficient ballots should be counted this year, and that ballots missing “fill out” information, such as printed name or address, should not be voided due to technical faults. However, Justice Dougherty noted that “the terms ‘date’ and ‘sign’ — which were included by the legislature — are self-evident,” and that they “do not view the absence of a date as a mere technical insufficiency we may overlook.”
 
The court also ruled on a similar, separate challenge by a Republican candidate for state senate in Allegheny County contesting 2,349 ballots. The court denied that request as well.

All 10,678 ballots will count in the 2020 election.

Nov 23, 4:10 pm
Biden expected to tap Janet Yellen as treasury secretary

Biden is expected to name former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his pick for treasury secretary sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. Yellen, would be the first woman to serve in the role if confirmed.

As Biden signaled when announcing he had made a decision on who would fill the role, the choice of Yellen is likely to earn approval from progressive Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who previously supported Yellen for chair of the Federal Reserve in 2013. In the last few days, leaders of progressive organizations have already signaled that should Warren not be slated for the role, Yellen would be acceptable in their minds.
 
ABC News has reached out to the Biden transition team for comment. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Nov 23, 3:29 pm
Top Dems spar with GSA over transition process

Two House committees continue to battle with the General Services Administration over Administrator Emily Murphy’s refusal to formally acknowledge the results of the election, which has stymied President-elect Joe Biden’s transition process.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Appropriations Committee have rejected an offer from the GSA to have Murphy’s deputy brief lawmakers next week, following an initial request for Murphy to brief lawmakers by Monday.

“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” top Democrats said to Murphy in a written response. “Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris Administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”

Democrats have offered to host the briefing themselves.

Murphy’s office claimed the briefing had to be moved to next week because of the closure of the GSA office due to “threatened violence against the facility.”

A GSA spokesperson did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Nov 23, 2:25 pm
Michigan meeting on whether to certify votes underway

Michigan election officials are in the process of determining whether to certify the state’s election results amid GOP efforts to delay it. Trump is currently trailing Biden by more than 150,000 votes.

If the state board, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, is deadlocked in its vote, the Michigan Court of Appeals would intervene and likely compel certification.

The Republican vice chair of the board of state canvassers, Aaron Van Langevelde, said the board’s duty is “very clear.”

“We have a duty to certify the selection based on the returns,” he said, opening the meeting to public comments. “That is very good. And we are limited to these returns, and I’m not going to argue that we’re not, but I still think that people have signed up today did have a chance to speak before we act on this motion.”

The board’s other Republican member, Norm Shinkle, told the Washington Post last week he is leaning toward delaying certification.

At least three votes are needed for certification.

Nov 23, 1:21 pm
Obama offers praise for Biden’s Cabinet picks

Shortly before the president-elect officially announced his picks for foreign policy and national security, former President Barack Obama weighed in with praise for the development of a team he said he has confidence in.

Obama described Antony Blinken, who was Obama’s deputy national security adviser and Biden’s foreign policy adviser when he was vice president, as a trusted adviser and a skilled diplomat. Blinken was tapped for secretary of state.

“He was part of our inner circle in on our key meetings throughout my presidency. He’s outstanding, a smart, gracious skilled diplomat, well regarded around the world, and I know he’s going to do a great job,” Obama said during a Washington Post Live event.

Obama called Jake Sullivan, Biden’s pick for national security adviser, a “wicked, smart, young, energetic” and “outstanding” selection.

“So you’re seeing a team develop that I have great confidence in,” Obama said, before cautioning that restoring allies’ confidence in the U.S. will not be “restored overnight.”

“There is going to be a lingering sense that America still divided. Some of the shenanigans that are going on right now around the election, that is making the world question how reliable and steady the U.S. may be,” Obama said. “There’s been some damage done that is going to take some time to dig ourselves out of.”

Nov 23, 12:30 pm
Biden announces first Cabinet picks

Biden’s transition team has officially revealed the president-elect’s choices for his incoming cabinet. The selections announced Monday include:

  • Antony Blinken, secretary of state
  • Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security
  • Avril Haines, director of national intelligence
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
  • Jake Sullivan, national security adviser
  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate

“Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits — or without diversity of background and perspective,” Biden said in a statement.

The team also said Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will introduce the nominees at an event that will be live-streamed Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.

Nov 23, 11:53 am
Republican senator says it’s time to ‘move forward’

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, an institutionalist Republican and avid Trump supporter, wrote in an op-ed for The Cincinnati Enquirer Monday that it’s time to “move forward” with Biden’s transition.

“Based on all the information currently available, neither the final lawful vote counts nor the recounts have led to a different outcome in any state. In other words, the initial determination showing Joe Biden with enough electoral votes to win has not changed,” Portman wrote.

Though he did not refer to Biden as “president-elect,” Portman went on to say it’s “time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward.”

“My hope is that all of us, as Americans, regardless of who we supported in the campaign, will be willing to accept the result because a thorough process was followed and the final vote count was clear,” he added.

Portman is the latest Senate Republican to join a small but growing list calling for a full and formal transition process to begin. Trump’s barrage of lawsuits has not swayed the court, resulting in just one win and at least 30 losses by an ABC News count.

Nov 23, 11:00 am
Biden announces more White House senior staff

Biden’s White House senior staff is expanding ahead of his Cabinet announcement Tuesday. His transition announced two deputy directors of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs: Reema Dodin and Shuwanza Goff.

Dodin served as deputy chief of staff and floor director to the Senate Democratic Whip, Sen. Dick Durbin.
 
Goff served as floor director for the House of Representatives under House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — the first Black woman to hold the position.

This announcement brings the total number of Biden senior staff to 12: five men and eight women.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle


Nov 23, 10:45 am
Michigan officials to convene on election results

The Michigan board of state canvassers will convene at 1 p.m. ET Monday to certify to election results.

By state law and historically by practice, certification by the board of state canvassers — which is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans — is a procedural step.

The board is obligated to confirm the election results per state law — essentially validating that the unofficial results match the tabulated votes. If the board is deadlocked, a court would likely intervene and compel certification.

All 83 counties in Michigan have certified their results, including the contested Wayne County, according to the secretary of state. The state bureau of elections also submitted a formal recommendation to the canvassing board, not only confirming Biden’s victory in the state but also assuring that the errors in reporting, which Trump and his allies have exploited, are “all attributable to human error,” “did not affect the actual tabulation of votes” and “were identified and corrected either prior to or during the county canvass.”

While Republicans, including RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, have called for a delay in certification to conduct an audit of Wayne County’s results, the secretary of state already confirmed plans for a post-election audit, including a performance audit in Wayne County. Under current state law, audits can only be completed after the results are certified.

Biden’s margin of victory in Michigan is currently more than 154,000 votes, nearly 15 times Trump’s margin in 2016.

-ABC News’ Kendall Karson

Nov 23, 10:07 am
Overview: Trump has no public events while Biden meets virtually with mayors

Officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania are slated to meet Monday to certify votes despite last-ditch efforts by Trump and his allies to override his election loss through legal battles and political pressure on GOP-controlled state legislators.

The president has largely hunkered down inside the White House since Election Day — the last time he took questions from reporters — and has no public events on his schedule again Monday. Over the weekend, as coronavirus cases climbed across the country, Trump went golfing instead of meeting with world leaders at a G20 event about the pandemic.

Biden and Harris are pressing forward with their transition, meeting virtually with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization, on Monday.

Biden’s team, meanwhile, continues to warn that Trump’s refusal to concede not only harms American democracy but, hindering their access to pandemic plans, may put American lives at risk.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, told ABC’s “This Week” that the president-elect is still being denied intelligence briefings, FBI background checks on potential Cabinet nominees and access to agency officials to help develop plans including those on coronavirus vaccine distribution.

Nov 23, 9:56 am
Biden has congratulatory call with Prime Minister of New Zealand

Biden shared a congratulatory phone call Sunday night with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, according to a readout issued by his transition team.

Biden also congratulated Ardern on her reelection, which she overwhelmingly won last month, and the two discussed containing COVID-19, climate change, strengthening democracy and “maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”

The president-elect also praised Ardern’s leadership after the 2019 Christchurch massacre and during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling her a “role model.”

In total, Biden has now spoken with world leaders from 14 different countries and the Vatican.

-ABC News’ John Verhovek

Nov 23, 9:38 am
Some in GOP call on Trump to concede as he stonewalls Biden’s transition

With less than 60 days until the inauguration, the Trump administration is still refusing to recognize Biden as the president-elect as a small but growing number of Republicans are calling for a full and formal transition process to begin.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the latest to add her voice, slamming Trump’s apparent “pressure campaign” on state legislators to try to overturn election results as “unprecedented” and “inconsistent with our Democratic process” while calling for Biden’s ascertainment in a statement Sunday.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a close confidant of Trump’s who helped him prepare for debates, called his legal team “a national embarrassment” on ABC’s This Week following another defeat in a Pennsylvania court over the weekend with a blistering dismissal from the judge.

After the ruling, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania urged Trump to concede the loss and facilitate the transition process, suggesting that his legacy will be harmed if he doesn’t help unify the country.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who has publicly feuded with Trump over the federal government’s response to COVID-19, also said Sunday he was more “embarrassed” by others in the party who haven’t spoken out.

Liz Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference, also asked Trump over the weekend to respect “the sanctity of our electoral process” if he can’t prove his claims of widespread voter fraud, which he’s so far been unable to do.

Even Trump allies like Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, are calling on the Trump administration to give Biden intelligence briefings — even if they aren’t publicly recognizing him yet as the president-elect.

Nov 23, 9:38 am
ABC: Biden to name his pick for US ambassador to the UN

Biden is expected to name Linda Thomas Greenfield as his pick for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Greenfield, a retired foreign service officer, is currently leading the State Department agency review team for the Biden transition and was one of the officials who briefed him last week on national security.

She would be just the second Black woman to ever serve in the post.

Biden’s transition declined to comment to ABC News.

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