Trump-Biden transition live updates: McConnell slams door on $2,000 payment vote


(NEW YORK) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 21 days.

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

Dec 30, 6:56 pm
Kemp responds to Trump’s calls for him to resign

In a media availability at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta this afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp responded to the president saying he should resign via Twitter Wednesday morning.

When first asked about the president’s tweet, Kemp said he was focused on the coronavirus — ensuring there are enough hospital beds and getting the vaccine distributed and administered across the state.

When pressed on Trump’s call for him to resign, Kemp said, “I’ve supported the president. I’ve said that many times. I’ve worked as hard as anybody in the state on his reelection up through November the 3rd.”

“I’ve supported the legal process that him or any other campaign can go through in that state, but at the end of the day, I also have to follow the laws in the Constitution,” he added.

-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan

Dec 30, 5:16 pm
46 left-leaning groups call on Biden to focus on ethics on 1st day in the White House

A coalition of 46 left-leaning groups including Greenpeace, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), MoveOn has issued a new letter calling on Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to focus on “democracy reform policies.”

The coalition is urging the Biden-Harris Administration to sign “a robust ethics order for your appointments on day one of your administration to prevent conflicts of interest, undue lobbyist influence, and ensure transparency to guarantee that your administration is focused solely on working for all Americans.”

Some of the demands from the groups include protecting voting rights, ending the power of big money in politics, restoring ethics and accountability in the capital, and protecting the rule of law through checks and balances.

– ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson

Dec 30, 4:08 pm
Giuliani continues last-ditch efforts, repeats false narratives before Georgia Senate subcommittee

President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, spoke before members of the Georgia state Senate and repeated his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and the fantasy that his client won the state of Georgia and the general election altogether. No lawmaker asked him a question following his remarks.

The hearing, which Trump tweeted was being broadcast on Newsmax and OANN this morning, was before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Election Law — the same subcommittee that Giuliani spoke before on Dec. 3, right before he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan

Dec 30, 3:58 pm
McConnell shuts door on boosted $2,000 pandemic relief payment vote, says the Senate will not be ‘bullied’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell effectively shut the door on allowing a vote on a bill that would boost pandemic relief checks from $600 to $2,000.

Republicans like McConnell have previously said they are concerned about the half-trillion-dollar price tag of the $2,000 payments that would add to the national debt.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, McConnell attacked House Democrats for wanting to send a “boatload of cash” to people making six figures who aren’t in need, saying it doesn’t make sense to support Americans who haven’t lost income due to the pandemic.

“The Senate’s not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats’ rich friends who don’t need the help,” McConnell said.

He said Congress needs to send “smart targeted aid. Not another firehose of money.”

McConnell also said he will not split the $2,000 relief payment bill from a repeal of Section 230 or the creation of an election fraud commission.

“The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together,” McConnell said, which means the bill, if the Senate does intend to vote on it, is unlikely to ever become law.

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer tried again Wednesday to unanimously pass the House standalone bill that swaps out the $600 payments for $2,000, but McConnell objected. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also tried to pass the House bill unanimously, but GOP Sen. Pat Toomey objected.

– ABC News’ Mariam Khan

Dec 30, 12:29 pm
Pelosi signals she has votes for House speaker, pressures GOP on stimulus

In a news conference Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signaled that she’s got the votes to retain the speaker’s gavel, predicting enough Democrats will turn out for her when the new Congress convenes Sunday.

With just 222 Democrats eligible to be seated, she can only afford to lose five detractors, given a couple of vacancies and another race in New York where a winner has not yet been certified. That’s a heavy lift for Pelosi given there are still eight members in her caucus who opposed her in 2019, and two more who voted present in 2017.

Pelosi also dismissed news that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., will object to the certification of the Electoral College votes next week.
“I have no doubt that on next Wednesday, a week from today, that Joe Biden will be confirmed by the acceptance of the vote of the Electoral College as the 46th president of the United States,” she said.
On the stimulus fight, Pelosi pressured Senate Republicans to act on behalf of struggling families.
“The Democrats and Republicans in the House have passed that legislation. Who is holding up that distribution to the American people? Mitch McConnell, and the Senate Republicans,” Pelosi said. “In blocking it, they are in denial of the hardship that the American people are experiencing now — health wise, financially, in every way, their lives and livelihood in many cases are on the brink.”
“This $2,000 will go a long way, not only to sustain the financial security of America’s working families but will help small business to thrive as well,” she added.
Dec 30, 12:13 pm
Trump tweets false conspiracy claim about Georgia’s secretary of state’s nonexistent brother

President Trump, who has spent a lot of time over the past week at his golf course in West Palm Beach, Florida, took to Twitter to attack Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s brother — except that Raffensperger doesn’t have a brother.

In a tweet Tuesday evening just before midnight, the president called Raffensperger and Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp a “complete disaster” as he peddled his baseless claims of election fraud.

“Now it turns out that Brad R’s brother works for China, and they definitely don’t want ‘Trump’” he wrote in a tweet. “So disgusting! #MAGA”

Trump’s tweet bolsters a popular theory in far-right conspiracy circles in recent days — that the Georgia’s secretary of state is related to a Huawei Enterprise Storage Solutions executive with the same name. Huawei has been blacklisted by the Trump administration for its ties China.

Raffensperger, however, does not have a brother. He has two sisters and neither work for Huawei.

The White House has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the tweet, and has not responded to whether the president plans to take it down, issue a correction or has apologized to the Georgia secretary of state.

Dec 30, 11:37 am
GBI director reaffirms no fraudulent absentee ballots were identified during signature audit in Cobb County, Georgia

Vic Reynolds, the director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, participated in a press conference Wednesday morning at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta where he reaffirmed that the signature match audit conducted in Cobb County using GBI investigators found there were only two ballots out of approximately 15,000 that shouldn’t have been accepted as they were.

“The results of that audit confirmed the accuracy of the initial determination of the Cobb County election department in all but two cases. In other words, out of the 15,118 absentee ballot oath envelopes that were randomly audited, all of those were appropriately counted with the exception of two. Two were allowed that should not have been,” Reynolds said.

But even though election officials should have initiated the “cure” process for those absentee ballots, they were still not fraudulent.

While the absentee ballots were randomly selected, Reynolds said that every ballot that was rejected due to a signature mismatch or a missing signature were automatically included in the audit.

“I would also note for the record as well that during the course of the audit, there were no fraudulent absentee ballots identified in the process,” Reynolds added.

Reiterating what the secretary of state’s previously said, Reynolds said the audit found Cobb County had a 99.99% accuracy rate with envelopes GBI audited.

Dec 30, 11:28 am
Sen. Hawley, R-Mo, says he will object during Electoral College certification process

Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said Wednesday that he will object during the Electoral College certification process on Jan. 6.

“Following both the 2004 and 2016 elections, Democrats in Congress objected during the certification of electoral votes in order to raise concerns about election integrity. They were praised by Democratic leadership and the media when they did. And they were entitled to do so. But now those of us concerned about the integrity of this election are entitled to do the same,” Hawley said in a statement.

Hawley alleged that Pennsylvania failed to follow state election laws, though he did not cite any specifics. He also accused big tech companies of interfering in the election, also without evidence.

Dec 30, 11:05 am
Biden announces nominees for deputy secretary of defense, under secretary of defense for policy

The president-elect announced Wednesday that he was nominating Kathleen Hicks as the deputy secretary of defense and Colin Kahl as the under secretary of defense for policy.

“These respected, accomplished civilian leaders will help lead the Department of Defense with integrity and resolve, safeguard the lives and interests of the American people, and ensure that we fulfill our most sacred obligation: to equip and protect those who serve our country, and to care for them and their families both during and after their service,” Biden said in a statement. “Dr. Kath Hicks and Dr. Colin Kahl have the broad experience and crisis-tested judgment necessary to help tackle the litany of challenges we face today, and all those we may confront tomorrow.”
Hicks currently leads the Biden-Harris Transition’s Defense Agency Review Team and is the senior vice president and director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During the Obama-Biden Administration, she served as deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and forces and was confirmed by the Senate to serve as principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy.

Kahl is currently a co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, a Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a professor of political science at Stanford University.

Dec 30, 9:50 am
Biden, Harris to visit Georgia ahead of Senate runoffs

Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will travel to Georgia to campaign on behalf of Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock starting this weekend.

Harris will be in Savannah on Sunday and Biden will visit Atlanta on Monday, the eve of the Tuesday runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.

This is Biden and Harris’ second trip to Georgia ahead of the runoff. Biden will also be in the Peach State at the same time as Trump, who will be holding a rally on the same day to support Republican candidates Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

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