Political

Trump-Biden transition live updates: GOP senators vow to object to vote count

Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, TIA HUMPHRIES, CATHERINE THORBECKE and KATE PASTOR, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 18 days.

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

Jan 02, 1:17 pm
GOP Senators put out statement vowing to object during joint session of Congress on Wednesday

A group of GOP senators has come out with an extraordinary claim about “allegations of voter fraud” and “irregularities” that they say hasn’t been seen “in our lifetimes” — claiming they will object on Wednesday during a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes to the certification of electors in some states where votes were disputed. No list of states was given.

Also, no widespread fraud has been found by any court to date and such claims have been refuted by secretaries of state.

The senators — Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; James Lankford,  R-Okla;, Steve Daines, R-Mont.; John Kennedy, R-La., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Mike Braun, R-Ind., as well as Senators-Elect Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.; and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. — say that although they expect their efforts to fail, they will object “unless and until” a 10-day audit of election returns in disputed states is completed.

“The election of 2020, like the election of 2016, was hard fought and, in many swing states, narrowly decided.  The 2020 election, however, featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities,” the statement says, though none of these allegations has been supported by fact-finding efforts.

This is an extraordinary bucking of GOP leadership, which had hoped to avoid objections. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did, according to senators, tell them privately to vote their conscience.

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Jan 02, 1:09 pm
More than 3 million have voted early in Georgia Senate runoff

More than 3 million Georgians have already voted in the Jan. 5 runoff election, a figure that both smashes the previous turnout record for a statewide runoff in the Peach State and exemplifies the urgency of the dual Senate runoffs that will determine which party controls Congress’s upper chamber.

According to Georgia Votes, which is analyzing data from the secretary of state’s office, 3,001,017 voters had cast ballots in the runoff election following the last day of the three-week advance in-person voting period. Of those votes, 928,069 are absentee by mail and 2,072,948 are from in-person early voting.

-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan

Jan 01, 10:32 pm

Judge tosses suit against VP seeking reversal of election

A judge has tossed out Rep. Louie Gohmert’s effort to overturn the results of the presidential election by forcing Vice President Mike Pence to override the electors when votes are finalized by Congress on Jan 6.

“The problem for Plaintiffs here is that they lack standing,” Judge Jeremy Kernodle wrote in rejecting the case against Gohmert and several alternate Arizona electors Friday evening. “Plaintiff Louie Gohmert, the United States Representative for Texas’s First Congressional District, alleges at most an institutional injury to the House of Representatives. Under well settled Supreme Court authority, that is insufficient to support standing.” 

 He also said that the intervening electors “allege an injury that is not fairly traceable” to the vice president.

 Pence had argued that Gohmert should have sued the House and the Senate, not the vice president in his presiding role.

“The other Plaintiffs, the slate of Republican Presidential Electors for the State of Arizona (the “Nominee-Electors”), allege an injury that is not fairly traceable to the Defendant, the Vice President of the United States, and is unlikely to be redressed by the requested relief,” Kernodle wrote. 

Kernodle also wrote that Gohmert didn’t allege any harm done to himself as an individual. 

“He does not identify any injury to himself as an individual, but rather a ‘wholly abstract and widely dispersed’ institutional injury to the House of Representatives,” the judge wrote.

Following the ruling, Gohmert and the alternate Arizona electors filed a notice of appeal to the Fifth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

-ABC News’ Meg Cunningham

Jan 01, 3:52 pm

Gohmert says 140 House members will object to election

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is continuing his push to reverse the results of the presidential election by trying to legally force Vice President Mike Pence to override the electors when votes are finalized by Congress on Jan 6.

In a legal brief filed this morning, attorneys for Gohmert responded to Pence’s argument that they should have sued the House and the Senate, not the vice president in his presiding role. 

Gohmert’s attorneys wrote that there are 140 House members who are expected to object to the congressional certification of the Electoral College vote on Wednesday.

“On January 6th, a joint session of Congress will convene to formally elect the President. The defendant, Vice-President Pence, will preside. Under the Constitution, he has the authority to conduct that proceeding as he sees fit,” they wrote.

“He may count elector votes certified by a state’s executive, or he can prefer a competing slate of duly qualified electors. He may ignore all electors from a certain state. That is the power bestowed upon him by the Constitution.” 

Gohmert’s attorneys say Gohmert and the “over 140” House members will object on Wednesday due to “mounting and convincing evidence of voter fraud.”

“For over a century, the counting of elector votes and proclaiming the winner was a formality to which the prying eye of the media and those outside the halls of the government paid no attention. But not this time,” they wrote.

“This country is deeply divided along political lines,” the filing adds. “This division is compounded by a broad and strongly held mistrust of the election processes employed and their putative result by a very large segment of the American population.” 

A small group of Michigan’s GOP would-be electors also intervened in the case, and a Biden elector from Colorado did the same in support of Pence.

-ABC News’ Meg Cunningham

Jan 01, 2:38 pm

Senate votes to override Trump veto on defense bill

The Senate voted on Friday to override President Donald Trump’s veto on the defense spending bill in a rare New Year’s Day session.

The stinging rebuke by members of Trump’s own party represents the first time in his term that a veto has been overturned.

The vote was 81-13. A supermajority is needed to override a presidential veto.

Jan 01, 2:33 pm

‘Referendum on our democracy’

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, confirmed today that Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, called the upcoming joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, which will affirm the results of the presidential election, “the most consequential vote” of his lengthy tenure.

“I see that as a statement that he believes it’s a — it’s a referendum on our democracy,” Romney told reporters.

Sources said that McConnell asked Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on a New Year’s Eve call with Republicans to explain to his colleagues why he is planning to object to the certification of Biden’s electoral win during the joint session. McConnell had privately warned his colleagues weeks ago against doing this as it would put his conference in the position of having to oppose Trump (and thereby his base) publicly.

Hawley, in joining the last-ditch bid by Trump’s House allies to overturn the election results, said he objected to states not following their election laws. 

“At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections,” Hawley said in a statement. There has been no evidence of widespread election fraud.

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Jan 01, 1:32 pm

Senate Republicans block two more attempts to vote on $2,000 stimulus checks

In a very rare New Year’s Day session, Senate GOP leadership rejected two attempts to debate and vote on the House-passed CASH Act, which would give most Americans $2,000 in direct COVID relief payments. It was an effort by both Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders.


Jan 01, 1:19 pm
Senate Republicans block two more attempts to vote on $2,000 stimulus checks

In a very rare New Year’s Day session, Senate GOP leadership rejected two attempts to debate and vote on the House-passed CASH Act, which would give most Americans $2,000 in direct COVID relief payments. It was an effort by both Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders.
 
Republicans are continuing to argue that the House bill — which would allow those making up to $350,000 to receive some cash under the act, albeit a smaller amount than those making less — amounts to “socialism for the rich.”
 
The chamber’s socialist, Sen. Sanders — continued to argue that Republicans were “hypocrites” — blocking this effort but approving big tax breaks for the rich.
 
He was joined by conservative Sen. Josh Hawley, who slammed the fight by his own leadership.
 
“With all due respect, this doesn’t seem to be Republicans against Democrats. This seems to be the Senate against United States of America,” said Hawley.

Jan 01, 10:35 am
Senate prepares to cast preliminary vote to override Trump defense bill veto

The Senate is set to cast a preliminary vote this afternoon on overriding President Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act — which would be the first of his term.

The House voted overwhelmingly earlier this week to override Trump’s veto of the $740 billion legislation, which funds the military and that members from both parties have said is vital to both the troops, who get a raise under the measure, and national security.

Trump has called the bill a “gift” to China and Russia.

In vetoing the measure (which has passed every year for 59 years), Trump demanded that Congress include a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives broad legal immunity to tech companies over contents posted by users. He also wanted lawmakers to nix a provision authored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren that requires DOD to rename military bases and installations that honor Confederate generals.

Congress originally passed the measure with veto-proof majorities, and the House recently voted to override the veto. If the Senate votes to override — as it is expected to — the bill would become law.

Today’s test vote (which should be similar — if not identical — to the final vote) is expected to show more than the two-thirds majority required to override Trump’s veto.

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