Political

Trump-Biden transition updates: Pence told Trump he doesn’t have power to reverse election

Bill Chizek/iStock

By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 15 days.

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

Jan 05, 10:40 pm
Pence told Trump he doesn’t have power to reverse election

During their weekly lunch Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence told President Donald Trump he does not have the power to reverse the outcome of the November election when he presides over Wednesday’s joint session to certify Biden’s victory, two sources familiar with the matter confirm to ABC News.  

The development was first reported by The New York Times.

Trump had tweeted earlier in the day, “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”  

In a late-night statement, Trump called the reports untrue and continued to argue Pence has the power to overturn the election: “The New York Times report regarding comments Vice President Pence supposedly made to me today is fake news. He never said that. The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.”

However, the vice president’s role as laid out by the Constitution does not give him that power and there are no “fraudulently chosen electors.”

Jan 05, 8:16 pm
Pelosi sends letter to Dems ahead of Wednesday’s ‘solemn occasion’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out a new letter Tuesday to her Democratic colleagues on the eve of the Electoral College vote count on Capitol Hill — a day that she refers to as having “enormous historic significance.”
 
Pelosi reminded her colleagues that Wednesday’s event is a “solemn occasion” with no speaking roles during the Joint Session of Congress except for the announcing of votes of the states. Debate will happen if and when the House and Senate chambers break off after a valid objection is made. Over a quarter of Senate Republicans and possibly scores of House Republicans are planning on disputing the results.

Pelosi said that during the debate in the House, “We will have a civics lesson about protecting the integrity of our democracy.”

“The state delegations and our leaders — Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Jamie Raskin, Adam Schiff and Joe Neguse — have been working on our Democratic presentation of the Constitutional, historical and thematic justification for respecting the will of the people,” she wrote.

Pelosi also said that access to the House floor will be limited to those members scheduled to speak during the debate portion of events when there is a valid objection. Members are encouraged to remain in their offices unless called to vote because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

She also had a stark warning for colleagues to always wear a face mask while inside the Capitol and on the House floor, writing, “These procedures are not a suggestion, but a direction made in the interest of keeping the Congress healthy and intact.”

She concludes her message, “Tomorrow is about guaranteeing trust in our democratic system. As Members of Congress, we all have a responsibility to uphold the principle: the people are sovereign and that they hold the power to choose their leaders through the ballot box. I am confident that Democrats will honor this responsibility, with unity, patriotism and dignity For The People.”

-ABC News’ Mariam Khan and Ben Siegel

Jan 05, 1:07 pm
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz intends to object to certification of Arizona’s electoral votes

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, intends to object to the certification of Arizona’s electoral votes Wednesday at the joint session of Congress, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The Washington Postwhich first reported the news, said that the objection to Arizona is a result of it being the first of the battleground states to come up since the state votes are ratified alphabetically.

“He will object to Arizona with a focus on electoral commission — not setting aside election results,” the source said, referencing a call by Cruz and a group of 10 other GOP senators who want an electoral commission appointed to look into what the group claims are “allegations” of voter fraud and irregularities, many of which have been widely discredited and debunked

ABC has also learned from a GOP aide familiar with the matter, that the group of 11 senators — of which Cruz is a part — plan to support an objection by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to Pennsylvania’s certificates. The group includes Sens. Blackburn, Johnson, Lankford, among others.

Jan 05, 12:35 pm
Loeffler to object during ratification of Electoral College vote on Wednesday

At a Georgia rally that Trump headlined on the eve of two crucial runoff elections in the state, Republican candidate and Sen. Kelly Loeffler said she will object to the ratification of electoral college votes when Congress meets on Wednesday.

“I have an announcement, Georgia. On January 6th, I will object to the electoral college vote,” she said to cheers. “That’s right. That’s right. Thank you. We’re gonna get this done.”

Loeffler’s opposition will come separately from the group of eleven Senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, which is also launching an opposition effort. Including Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who is also objecting, Loeffler brings the total number of senators who vow to object to 13.

They are objecting despite the fact that secretaries of state across the country told ABC News in November there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, while post-election audits of voting machines returned minuscule differences in the vote count and after dozens of cases contesting the election results were tossed out.

“Elections are the bedrock of our democracy and the American people deserve to be 100% confident in our election system and its outcomes. But right now, tens of millions of Americans have real concerns about the way in which the November Presidential election was conducted — and I share their concerns,” Loeffler said in a separate statement.

She added: “The American people deserve a platform in Congress, permitted under the Constitution, to have election issues presented so that they can be addressed. That’s why, on January 6th, I will vote to give President Trump and the American people the fair hearing they deserve and support the objection to the Electoral College certification process.”

Jan 05, 12:34 pm
Ossoff dismisses Trump’s attacks, derides GOP ‘circus’ in Washington

Jon Ossoff, one of the Democratic candidates in Georgia’s Senate runoffs Tuesday, appeared on ABC’s “GMA3” and weighed in on President Trump’s campaign speech in Georgia Monday night, as well as what he called the “distraction” in Washington from the nation’s pressing problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked about Trump describing him as an “unhinged radical leftist who supports health care that will lead to death,” and as someone who “doesn’t like police” and will “destroy the economy,” Ossoff said that the president is still trying to win the lost election and that the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are more important than the “damaged ego of a narcissist who was defeated resoundingly.”

Ossoff added that “Georgia’s own Centers for Disease Control should take the lead” on COVID-19. “We’ve got to get free testing and vaccines, as I said, to everybody — because otherwise … it will be your wealth and connections that determine whether you are protected from this virus.”

Ossoff also spoke about his relationship with the other Democratic candidate, Rev. Raphael Warnock, saying, “it speaks to just how far the state of Georgia has come and how far the American South has come that not only is Georgia the most competitive battleground in the country, not only will these two Senate runoffs determine Senate control, but the Democratic standard-bearers are the young Jewish journalist son of an immigrant mentored by John Lewis, and a Black pastor who holds Dr. King’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church.”

Asked about the expected GOP efforts to object to the Electoral College vote count in Congress on Wednesday, Ossoff dismissed it a “circus.”

“The efforts to overturn the results of this election are an attack on Georgia voters. We need to be looking forward. You know, this is all a distraction in the midst of a dire national crisis. We are losing thousands of people per day to COVID-19. Hospital systems and nursing homes are buckling under the weight of this outbreak, millions of families face the possibility of eviction or foreclosure or having difficulty putting food on the table. The circus in Washington is irrelevant. What matters is addressing the suffering of the American people.”

Jan 05, 11:51 am
Ossoff dismisses Trump’s attacks, derides GOP ‘circus’ in Washington

Jon Ossoff, one of the Democratic candidates in Georgia’s Senate runoffs Tuesday, appeared on ABC’s “GMA3” and weighed in on President Trump’s campaign speech in Georgia Monday night, as well as what he called the “distraction” in Washington from the nation’s pressing problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked about Trump describing him as an “unhinged radical leftist who supports health care that will lead to death,” and as someone who “doesn’t like police” and will “destroy the economy,” Ossoff said that the president is still trying to win the lost election and that the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are more important than the “damaged ego of a narcissist who was defeated resoundingly.”

Ossoff added that “Georgia’s own Centers for Disease Control should take the lead” on COVID-19. “We’ve got to get free testing and vaccines, as I said, to everybody — because otherwise … it will be your wealth and connections that determine whether you are protected from this virus.”

Ossoff also spoke about his relationship with the other Democratic candidate, Rev. Raphael Warnock, saying, “it speaks to just how far the state of Georgia has come and how far the American South has come that not only is Georgia the most competitive battleground in the country, not only will these two Senate runoffs determine Senate control, but the Democratic standard-bearers are the young Jewish journalist son of an immigrant mentored by John Lewis, and a Black pastor who holds Dr. King’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church.”

Asked about the expected GOP efforts to object to the Electoral College vote count in Congress on Wednesday, Ossoff dismissed it a “circus.”

“The efforts to overturn the results of this election are an attack on Georgia voters. We need to be looking forward. You know, this is all a distraction in the midst of a dire national crisis. We are losing thousands of people per day to COVID-19. Hospital systems and nursing homes are buckling under the weight of this outbreak, millions of families face the possibility of eviction or foreclosure or having difficulty putting food on the table. The circus in Washington is irrelevant. What matters is addressing the suffering of the American people.”

Jan 05, 11:05 am
Results in Georgia runoffs could take days, might show ‘red mirage’ at first

Election Day is here in the two runoff races in Georgia that will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the Senate, but there is unlikely to be a result Tuesday night, and it could be days until there is a clear winner.

There’s a strong chance that there will be a “red mirage” — the early but misleading appearance that Republicans have won — similar to what was seen in the general election in several battleground states.

Trump was leading by tens of thousands of votes in Georgia on election night in November, a fact not unique to the state but something President Trump and his allies cite when claiming baselessly that the election was rigged against him.

It wasn’t until Clayton County, the fifth largest and the most Democratic in the state, uploaded a batch of votes in the early hours of the Friday after the election that Biden surpassed Trump and took the lead in Georgia.

In the Senate races, the six largest counties — which all lean in Democrats’ favor — are going to take longer to count their votes than small, rural counties, which lean in Republicans’ favor.

Also, absentee ballots can be received up until 7 p.m. on Election Day, and these will still need to be processed, which is time-consuming. Voters whose absentee ballots are rejected (like for a missing signature) have until 5 p.m. Friday to “cure” their ballots. Military/overseas ballots are due by 5 p.m. on Friday as well. Voters who had to cast provisional ballots because they didn’t have a photo ID also must follow up with their county election offices and prove their eligibility to vote by 5 p.m. Friday.

On election night and in the days that follow, a “red mirage” or “blue shift” is not a sign that something nefarious is happening — it just means the votes are being counted.

Jan 05, 12:23 am
Trump pressures Pence in public over electoral vote count

At a rally billed as a last-minute push to save Republicans’ control of the Senate on the eve of two crucial runoff elections in Georgia, President Donald Trump spent the majority of his time on stage Monday continuing to push baseless and debunked voter fraud claims about the presidential election, despite losing reelection over two months ago.

“I don’t concede,” Trump said Monday.

Then, he stunningly put pressure on Vice President Mike Pence ahead of Wednesday’s certification of the Electoral College vote.

“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you. I hope that our great Vice President — our great Vice President comes through for us. He’s a great guy. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump said Monday night. “No, Mike is a great guy. He’s a — he’s a — he’s a wonderful man and a smart man.”

Pence will be tasked Wednesday with overseeing a joint session of Congress at which the Electoral College vote will be certified, officially and finally determining former Vice President Joe Biden to be the president-elect.

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