Biden Transition Live Updates – The New York Times


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‘Compromise Is Within Reach,’ McConnell Says of Stimulus Talks

Senator Mitch McConnell said negotiations on a new round of coronavirus relief were closer to agreement, but did not endorse a $908 billion compromise measure embraced by Democratic leaders.

“It has always been about policy differences. We have two sides with two different visions for the best way to support our nation through what we hope will be the last chapter of the pandemic. Now that isn’t new. We have disagreements all the time. Our system can handle disagreements. But both sides have to be willing to compile their commonalities and make law here. Our people are hurting. But they’re ready to finish this fight. Congress should not keep them waiting for reinforcements that should have arrived, literally, months ago. So compromise is within reach. We know where we agree, we can do this. Let me say it again, we can do this and we need to do this. So let’s be about actually making a law.” “Speaker Pelosi and I made a new offer to Leader McConnell and Leader McCarthy on Monday in hopes of jumpstarting serious negotiations, and Leader McConnell responded by circulating another version of a partisan Republican-only draft. So in the spirit of compromise, Speaker Pelosi and I believe the bipartisan framework introduced by a group of eight senators on Tuesday should be used as the basis, the framework, for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations. The need to act is urgent, and we believe that with good faith negotiations we could very well come to an agreement. We are already much closer to an agreement because of the bipartisan talks these eight senators have done — have created. And we can build off their momentum.”

Senator Mitch McConnell said negotiations on a new round of coronavirus relief were closer to agreement, but did not endorse a $908 billion compromise measure embraced by Democratic leaders.CreditCredit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, talked on Thursday about reaching agreement on must-pass government funding legislation and on another coronavirus relief package, amid pressure from rank and file members for a bipartisan compromise.

A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, Drew Hammill, said the conversation early Thursday afternoon focused on “their shared commitment to completing an omnibus and Covid relief as soon as possible.”

Mr. McConnell has been largely removed from discussions with Ms. Pelosi over another stimulus bill since the two chambers enacted a sweeping $2.2 trillion stimulus law in March. Instead, as he has worked to wrangle Republican support behind a series of targeted bills, Trump administration officials have led discussions with Ms. Pelosi over a possible deal.

The phone call between the two congressional leaders came after Mr. McConnell left the door open to reaching a deal on a new round of stimulus to address the pandemic, but stopped short of endorsing a $908 billion compromise plan Democrats embraced on Wednesday, saying it did not represent a genuine concession.

Mr. McConnell said it had been “heartening to see a few hopeful signs” this week in stimulus relief negotiations.

“Compromise is within reach,” Mr. McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “We know where we agree. We can do this. Let me say it again: We can do this, and we need to do this. So let’s be about actually making a law.”

But Mr. McConnell appeared to be referring to a much smaller stimulus proposal he began circulating earlier this week that he said would be able to secure President Trump’s signature, not the compromise measure being developed by a group of moderate senators in both parties.

Mr. McConnell admonished lawmakers to focus on policy provisions where there was substantial agreement, signaling that he would not be quick to move off his targeted proposal.

Mr. Trump, asked Thursday whether he agreed with Mr. McConnell that pandemic relief was “in sight” and whether he would support “this bill,” answered affirmatively. While it was initially unclear which bill Mr. Trump was willing to sign, the White House later clarified that it was the smaller Republican bill, which Mr. McConnell is backing.

“I will, and I think we are getting very close,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

Later on Thursday, more Republican senators signaled openness to embracing the $908 billion framework that Democratic leaders had endorsed as a baseline for restarting negotiations.

“I’ve never been more hopeful that we’ll get a bill,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said, who told reporters that he supports the framework and discussed it with Mr. Trump at the White House on Thursday. “I will support what Senator McConnell wants to propose, but it doesn’t have any Democratic support. I’m tired of doing show votes here.”

Mr. McConnell’s plan is a nonstarter for Democrats, given that it would not provide funding for state and local governments or a revival of lapsed federal unemployment payments and would include a sweeping liability shield they have long resisted.

Democrats, who initially unveiled a $3.4 trillion proposal in May but later scaled back their proposal by about $1 trillion, argued that Mr. McConnell must drop his demand for a narrow package and consider the compromise plan centrists in both parties have proposed.

The bipartisan framework would restore lapsed federal jobless benefits, providing $300 a week for 18 weeks; would include $288 billion for struggling small businesses, restaurants and theaters and $160 billion for fiscally strapped cities and states; and would create a temporary liability shield for businesses operating amid the pandemic.

President-elect Joe Biden with his mask at an appearance in Wilmington, Del., last month.
Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said on Thursday that he would ask the public to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration.

“Just 100 days to mask,” Mr. Biden said in an interview on CNN on Thursday. “Not forever. 100 days. And I think we’ll see a significant reduction.”

The president-elect also said he had asked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, to play a central role in his administration.

“I asked him to stay on in the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team,” Mr. Biden said in the interview, adding that he had spoken with Dr. Fauci earlier in the day.

His remarks come as many experts expect that the United States is headed into an especially brutal stage of the coronavirus pandemic, even as hopeful signs for a vaccine emerge.

Representatives for Mr. Biden did not immediately respond to a question about whether Dr. Fauci had accepted the offer.

President Trump has been overtly critical of Dr. Fauci and frequently ignored the advice of health experts throughout the pandemic, despite testing positive for the coronavirus weeks before Election Day.

Election workers work with ballots on Election Day in Milwaukee.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Trump campaign’s lawsuit that aimed to invalidate more than 200,000 votes cast in two of the state’s Democratic bastions, closing off yet another legal avenue by which the outgoing president has tried to overturn the results of the general election.

The conservative court’s 4-to-3 vote to decline to take the case puts a stop to one part of a multipronged attempt by President Trump and his supporters to upend the legality of Wisconsin’s entire system of absentee voting, which the Trump campaign had sought to cast as violating state law.

The court’s majority of three liberal justices and one conservative justice wrote that the Wisconsin Supreme Court was not the proper venue for the Trump campaign’s lawsuit and suggested it refile in a lower state court.

The Trump campaign’s Wisconsin lawyer, James Troupis, said he would refile the suit in county-level circuit courts. “We fully expect to be back in front of the Supreme Court very soon,” he said.

But Mr. Troupis and the Trump campaign are running short on time for any legal action to change the reality of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s 20,000-vote victory in Wisconsin. The deadline to exhaust legal challenges to state certifications is Tuesday and the Electoral College is set to meet to formally vote to make Mr. Biden the next president on Dec. 14.

The Trump campaign late Wednesday filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in Milwaukee seeking to undo the result of the election entirely and have Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes be determined by its Republican-controlled state legislature. Two other suits — one in the federal courts and another pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court — are also seeking to challenge the state’s election.

Unlike their claims of electoral malfeasance elsewhere, the Trump campaign and its Republican allies in the state have not argued the presidential election in Wisconsin was marred by fraud.

“I’ve yet to see a credible claim of fraudulent activity during this election,” Dean Knudson, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said during the body’s meeting on Tuesday. “The Trump campaign has not made any claims of fraud in this election. These are disputes in matters of law.”

Mr. Troupis, has for the last two weeks argued that the acceptance of in-person absentee ballots by municipal clerks before Election Day violated state law — even though local elections officials were doing so at the direction of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, a bipartisan body that oversees the state’s elections.

The Trump lawsuit also argued that municipal clerks should not have been allowed to complete address forms for witnesses to absentee ballots, which the elections commission gave them permission to do. State law requires absentee voters to have witnesses sign their ballot envelopes. It also asked the court to invalidate ballots that were collected by the Madison municipal clerk at October gatherings in city parks, though those events were also blessed by the elections commission.

The Trump campaign only challenged ballots in Milwaukee County and Dane County, which includes Madison, the state capital and home of the flagship University of Wisconsin campus. The two counties are the largest and most Democratic in the state.

The Trump campaign’s lawsuit, if it had been successful, would not necessarily have invalidated ballots cast through the manner it claims were illegal. It simply would have reduced the number of votes from the state’s two most Democratic counties without addressing ballots cast in an identical manner in the state’s other 70 counties.

Alan Feuer contributed reporting.

Tina Flournoy, a top aide to former President Bill Clinton with three decades of political, governmental and union experience, will serve as chief of staff to Vice President Kamala Harris, transition officials announced on Thursday, a move that underscores the influence of veteran officials with deep ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Ms. Harris has also tapped Nancy McEldowney, a former United States ambassador to Bulgaria who served as a National Security Council aide under Mr. Clinton in the 1990s, as her national security adviser.

And Rohini Kosoglu, who served as chief of staff to Ms. Harris in the Senate and played a central role on her presidential campaign, will be the vice president’s domestic policy adviser. Ms. Kosoglu is one of the few people who worked for Ms. Harris before she was chosen as Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate to be given a top job in the new administration.

Earlier this week, Ms. Harris appointed Symone Sanders and Ashley Etienne, two Black women, to head her communications team. Thursday’s selection of Ms. Flournoy, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, and Ms. Kosoglu, who is of South Asian descent, filled out a roster of top aides who are almost all women of color, in keeping with the campaign’s pledge to make the Biden White House the most diverse and representative in history.

Some Black Democrats are pressing Mr. Biden to do more when it comes to hiring in the West Wing and in cabinet positions. “From all I hear, Black people have been given fair consideration,” Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and a close Biden ally, told The Hill last week. “I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces. But so far it’s not good.”

Ms. Flournoy is a well-known Democratic operative who is close to Minyon Moore, the veteran Clinton aide whom Ms. Harris has tapped to help guide her transition planning.

She has deep roots in organized labor, having served as a top official at the American Federation of Teachers before joining the former president’s staff in 2013.

Her career in government dates back to the early 1990s, when she served as general counsel for the 1992 Democratic convention, as a Democratic National Committee official, and as an aide in the White House personnel office during the Clinton administration.

Ms. Kosoglu, who helped hammer out the details of the Affordable Care Act as a Senate Democratic staffer a decade ago, is expected to serve as a bridge to the upper chamber. Before joining Ms. Harris’s staff in the Senate, she served as a policy adviser to Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, and as a legislative aide to Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York suggested he would not rush to conclusions about what went wrong in last month’s elections.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

House Democrats, stung by last month’s election losses and facing daunting 2022 midterms, chose Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York on Thursday as chairman of their campaign arm, selecting him to lead the fight to maintain their narrow majority.

Mr. Maloney, a moderate from the Hudson Valley, had promised to immediately reboot the group, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, amid an outpouring of complaints from rank-and-file lawmakers distraught over the loss of as many as a dozen seats last month. In campaigning for the role, he leaned heavily on his own success winning a district that voted for President Trump in 2016, arguing that he was best positioned to help protect fellow swing district Democrats who will make or break the majority in two years.

But in a recent interview, Mr. Maloney suggested he would not rush to conclusions about what went wrong last month before the final handful of outstanding races were called and Democrats could conduct a deeper study of the outcome.

“The intelligent answer to that question is I don’t really know yet what happened and neither does anyone else, but I know how to find out,” said Mr. Maloney. “If you’re not God, you should bring data.”

He beat out Representative Tony Cárdenas of California, 119 to 107, in a secret-ballot vote that took place virtually because of the raging coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Cárdenas, the son of Mexican immigrants who has led the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s campaign arm, centered his bid around wining back Latino voters in key swing states that voted Republican this year.

For Mr. Maloney, who has been eager to increase his stature in Washington or New York, the victory catapults him into the upper tier of House leadership at a time when a younger generation of Democrats is jockeying for positions guiding the party after Speaker Nancy Pelosi retires, as soon as 2022. Mr. Maloney, 54, will be the highest-ranking openly gay member of House leadership.

The task is a steep one. Rarely in recent history has the president’s party been able to maintain control of the House in the midterm elections of his first term. In this case, Democrats will also be fighting for re-election in 2022 in newly drawn districts based on the 2020 census that are likely to only further tilt the playing field toward Republicans.

The job could be even more complicated this time given the looming changes atop House leadership. Ms. Pelosi has led Democrats in the chamber for nearly two decades, tightly controlling the party’s legislative and campaign strategies and raising huge amounts of money for candidates — attributes her successors will have a difficult time replicating.

House Republicans already re-elected their campaign chairman, Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, to lead the charge to retake the majority. His searing campaign attack strategy this year, portraying vulnerable Democrats as socialist sympathizers who want to defund police forces, clearly rattled Democrats and has pleased the rank and file in his own party.

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, spoke with the news media at the State Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Credit…Erik S. Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

ATLANTA — Georgia, perhaps more than any other state in the nation, continues to be haunted by a sort of zombie campaign to produce a Trump victory, one month after Election Day.

Even though Gov. Brian Kemp has already certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state, his fellow Republicans plan to hold a pair of State Senate committee hearings Thursday that are likely to dig into the question of whether the state’s election was, as President Trump falsely puts it, “rigged.”

Mr. Trump will be making his case in person on Saturday at a rally on behalf of the state’s incumbent Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, in Valdosta ahead of a double January runoff that will determine the balance of power in the upper chamber.

On Thursday, Democrats announced that former President Barack Obama would host a virtual rally on Friday for the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Perdue’s Democratic challengers. Mr. Obama will be joined by Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia legislator and candidate for governor who has championed voting rights in the state.

Many of the state’s Republicans continue to expend significant effort — and contort themselves into political pretzels — to navigate the president’s outrage over the fact that he lost the state, in the hope of demonstrating to his supporters that they are doing all they can to root out any trace of fraud to back Mr. Trump’s baseless claims.

For some Republicans, the most urgent concern is that the president’s ongoing effort to undermine faith in the election process will depress conservative turnout in the Jan. 5 runoff.

Alyssa Farah wrote in her resignation letter that she was leaving “to pursue new opportunities.”
Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

Alyssa Farah resigned on Thursday from her post as the White House communications director, adding to the growing pile of evidence that President Trump’s staff is acknowledging his loss despite his refusal to do so.

Ms. Farah, who was previously the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence and the Defense Department, did not mention the election in her resignation letter, saying only that she was leaving “to pursue new opportunities.”

She praised Mr. Trump’s Middle East policy, tax cuts and judicial nominations, as well as the administration’s Operation Warp Speed program to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

“I am deeply proud of the incredible things we were able to accomplish to make our country stronger, safer and more secure,” she wrote.

Mr. Trump has been insisting falsely that the outcome of the election was unclear, even though all of the swing states whose results he was challenging have certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s win. But the presidential transition is well underway.

Ms. Farah’s resignation comes less than a week after Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced the communications team for their incoming administration. When Mr. Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, his deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, will become the White House communications director.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, according to an A.P. article Wednesday, had been offered and turned down the position of Interior secretary.
Credit…Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal, via Associated Press

Senator-elect Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico used a private meeting on Thursday with top advisers to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to criticize the incoming administration’s treatment of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, a Democrat thought to be in line for a cabinet post.

One day after reports surfaced that Ms. Lujan Grisham had been offered, and turned down, the position of Interior secretary, Mr. Luján rebuked the incoming White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, and other senior Biden officials for the leak, according to a Democrat familiar with the discussion. The Democrat requested anonymity to discuss the virtual meeting between members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Mr. Klain and the Biden transition co-chairmen Jeffrey Zients and Ted Kaufman.

Hispanic lawmakers have been promoting Ms. Lujan Grisham to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mr. Klain expressed regret and said such leaks were deeply frustrating.

The offer of a position Ms. Lujan Grisham was not seeking and the subsequent revelation that she declined the post infuriated members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a group that she was a member of before being elected governor in 2018. The group has believed she was a far better fit for health secretary given her earlier service as New Mexico’s health secretary.

But the frustration revealed a broader concern that Latinos have been chosen for few high-ranking positions in the Biden administration. Homeland Security-nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban-American, is the only Hispanic tapped so far for a cabinet job. Mr. Luján and other Hispanic lawmakers on Thursday pressed for a pair of Latinos thought to be contenders for attorney general: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Democratic members of Congress are becoming more outspoken about their preferences for the cabinet. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Representative James E. Clyburn, the highest ranking Black lawmaker, want more African-Americans named to senior positions.

A number of lawmakers want Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico, a Native American, to be named Interior secretary, making the offer to Ms. Lujan Grisham, another New Mexican, that much more awkward.

It remains unclear whether Ms. Lujan Grisham may still be offered the Department of Health and Human Services. On Thursday, a would-be rival for the post, Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, told reporters she would not become Mr. Biden’s health secretary.

Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican who faces a runoff next month, made 2,596 stock trades in a single term, a Times analysis found, far outpacing his Senate colleagues.
Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Senator David Perdue, the Georgia Republican facing a runoff election that could determine the control of the Senate, made 2,596 stock trades in one term in office, including, at times, 20 or more transactions in a single day.

The number of trades far outpaced those made by his Senate colleagues, a Times analysis found. And the timing of some of them have raised questions about conflicts of interest, drawing attention to the senator’s investment portfolio just a few weeks before a highly consequential runoff election.

The Justice Department had investigated the senator for possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in a financial-analysis firm, Cardlytics. Ultimately, prosecutors declined to bring charges.

The Times analyzed data compiled by Senate Stock Watcher, a nonpartisan website that aggregates publicly available information on lawmakers’ trading. Mr. Perdue’s transactions -mostly in stocks but also in bonds and funds — accounted for nearly a third of all senators’ trades reported in the past six years.

The data also shows the breadth of trades Mr. Perdue made in companies that stood to benefit from policy and spending matters that came not just before the Senate as a whole, but before the committees and subcommittees on which he served.

As a member of the Senate’s cybersecurity subcommittee, Mr. Perdue cited a frightening report about hackers overseas that pose a threat to U.S. computer networks. The report was done by a California-based company called FireEye, a federal contractor with stock Mr. Perdue bought and sold 61 times since 2016. At one point he owned as much as $250,000 worth of shares in the company.

Gabriel Sterling, a Georgia elections official, called on President Trump to condemn threats and violence during a news conference in Atlanta.
Credit…Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

In his urgent demand on Monday that President Trump condemn his angry supporters who are threatening workers and officials overseeing the 2020 vote, a Georgia elections official focused on an animated image of a hanging noose that had been sent to a young voting-machine technician.

“It’s just wrong,” the official, Gabriel Sterling, a Republican, said at a news conference. “I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have over this.”

But the technician in Georgia is not alone. Far from it.

Across the nation, election officials and their staff have been bombarded with emails, telephone calls and letters brimming with menace and threats of violence, the poisonous fallout of an election in which Mr. Trump has stoked baseless claims of election fraud on a daily basis.

Mr. Trump on Thursday dismissed Attorney General William P. Barr’s recent determination that no widespread fraud existed in the election, calling Mr. Barr’s failure to corroborate his claims “a disappointment, to be honest.”

Asked if he still had confidence in Mr. Barr, Mr. Trump replied, “ask me that in a number of weeks from now” — even though he has less than two months left in office.

Amber McReynolds, the head of the National Vote at Home Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes voting by mail, said she had experienced a spike in online threats since Election Day.Officials in battleground states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona also have been threatened, as well as election officers in less contested states like Virginia and Kentucky, according to published reports and interviews with some of the targets.

Brian Deese, at the White House in 2015, will lead the National Economic Council in the Biden administration.
Credit…Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has officially selected Brian Deese, who played a leading role in bailing out the automotive industry and negotiating the Paris climate agreement under President Barack Obama, to head the National Economic Council, his transition team said Thursday.

The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, highlights Mr. Biden’s plans to use economic policy initiatives to drive climate policy. It also defies pre-emptive criticism from some environmental groups, who have targeted Mr. Deese for his work in recent years as the sustainability director for asset-management giant BlackRock.

Mr. Deese joins a slate of Biden appointees to top economic positions, announced earlier this week, that includes the nomination of Janet L. Yellen as Treasury secretary, Neera Tanden to be director of the Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Mr. Deese said in written statement that his immediate focus “will be on stemming this crisis, getting people back to work, and fighting to deliver the support American families desperately need — including rental and mortgage assistance, child care and paid leave, and small business relief.”

He also said that as the economy recovers, Mr. Biden’s economic team would work to fulfill the president-elect’s broader agenda for rebuilding infrastructure and supporting job creation and wage growth, “from restoring American industrial and manufacturing strength to embedding climate solutions in an ambitious jobs strategy.”

Mr. Deese joined the Obama administration as a special assistant to the president based in the National Economic Council, where he helped craft the bailout of large American automakers. In 2015, he became a senior adviser to Mr. Obama on climate change and energy, helping drive sweeping regulations cutting emissions from the electricity sector and from vehicle tailpipes as the United States prepared to join the Paris agreement on global warming.

But Mr. Deese’s post-Obama administration role as global head of sustainable investing at the BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has drawn criticism from many environmental activists on the left, who say the company has not gone far enough to abandon fossil fuels.

 Many of the president’s allies believe his talk of another run in 2024, when he will be 78 years old, is more about maintaining relevance.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

With President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. rolling out a steady list of picks for top jobs and Congress working to pass a compromise stimulus plan, much of Washington appears to be moving on from the election theatrics that unfolded over much of last month.

Even President Trump, while still challenging the results through the narrowing channels that remain, also appears to at least be considering next moves.

He made clear that he remained deeply committed to fighting the election outcome, releasing a 46-minute videotaped screed on Wednesday in which he spoke angrily and complained of a “rigged” vote. It came the day after his own attorney general, William P. Barr, said that despite inquiries from the Justice Department and the F.B.I., “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Still, Mr. Trump has been signaling that he may set his sights on becoming only the second president in American history to win another term after being defeated. He has also discussed steps he might take to insulate himself before the 2024 presidential election, such as pre-emptively pardoning members of his family before leaving office.

How serious he is remains to be seen. Many allies believe the president’s talk of another run in 2024, when he will be 78 years old, is more about maintaining relevance, enabling him to raise funds, soothe his wounded pride and try to shed the label of loser.

But even if it is only for show, Mr. Trump’s talk of a 2024 campaign has already frozen the Republican field and could delay the emergence of a new generation of leaders while keeping the party tethered to a politically polarizing figure for months or years.





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Donald Trump has started the transition process. What’s left for him to do before Joe Biden’s inauguration?


After a delay, the presidential transition process has officially begun.

President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris will have 57 days to prepare to govern a nation of 330 million people.

At the same time, US President Donald Trump has 57 days to carry out the final duties of his term in office.

There aren’t official rules that outline what exactly should occupy both their schedules between now and inauguration day.

But we can get a good gist by looking at the final schedule of the last person to leave the Oval Office — Barack Obama.

Here’s what might happen.

A meeting between Trump and Biden

Donald Trump and Barack Obama met just days after the 2016 US eleciton.(AP: Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Yesterday Biden said that he remained open to meeting the outgoing President.

This meeting normally happens a lot closer to election day.

Just two days after the election was called, Barack Obama hosted Donald Trump in the White House for a meeting.

Likewise, then vice-president-elect Mike Pence and the outgoing vice-president Joe Biden shared a meeting as well.

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The Obama-Trump meeting lasted about 90 minutes before the pair fronted the media together.

“I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. He explained some of the difficulties, some of the high-flying assets, and some of the really great things that have been achieved,” Trump said at the time.

At the moment, there is no indication that Trump will invite Biden to the White House for a meeting (even as their aides do just that).

The President has said on Twitter that his legal challenges to the election are still proceeding and he will “never concede to fake ballots”. There is no evidence of widespread fraud or fake ballots at the election.

Pardons, executive orders, medals

There are a lot of things a US president can do with the stroke of a pen.

One of them is the power to pardon people who have been convicted of a federal crime (remove the conviction) or to commute their sentence (ending a sentence without removing the conviction).

And compared to his predecessor, who used this power more frequently than any president had in decades, Trump has used it less often than any president in modern history, according to Pew Research.

But that looks like it will change in his final days in office.

Yesterday Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn. US media reports that it could be the first of many before Trump hands over to Biden.

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Obama himself shortened the sentences of 330 prison inmates convicted of drug crimes just one day before leaving the White House.

The executive order is another area where the US president has a lot of power without a lot of oversight. And the president can keep signing them right up until the moment they leave office.

Again, Obama signed seven executive orders between January 12-17 in his final days in office.

Those orders can be challenged in the courts, and a new president can revoke or change those orders if they want (something Biden is already planning to do).

And finally, the president can recognise any American he likes with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour.

Obama did that when he awarded it to Biden in their final week in office.

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Some light-hearted stuff

The final weeks of a president’s term in office line up with the holiday season in the United States.

That means taking part in the annual pardoning of a turkey for Thanksgiving.

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Donald Trump “pardons” the White House Thanksgiving turkey.

Soon after, it also means flicking the official switch at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

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The president often takes some phone calls from American children on Christmas Eve.

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A farewell address … of sorts

Presidents normally say their farewell to the American people in some form or another. Barack Obama gave his in Chicago in early January of 2017.

But by its very nature, it involves an acknowledgement that you’ll be moving out of the Oval Office, which Trump has refused to do so far.

That doesn’t mean he won’t go out with a flurry of public appearances of his own.

President Donald Trump stands at a podium in front of a big crowd at a US election rally in Pennsylvania.
Donald Trump held a flurry of rallies at the end of the campaign. It’s expected he’ll return soon.(AP: Alex Brandon)

US media has reported that Trump plans to hold campaign-style rallies not only in the coming weeks, but also well after inauguration day has come and gone.

A pair of hotly contested runoffs in Georgia that will determine who controls the Senate in 2021 and beyond could draw both the President and the president-elect back onto the campaign trail.

Biden’s staff said we should “expect” to see the president-elect in the state before election day. We’re yet to hear of similar plans from the President.

When is Inauguration Day?

January 21, 2021 AEDT, for anyone wanting to save the date.

We don’t have any idea of what Biden’s inauguration will look like yet, given that the US is in the grip of its worst-ever wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Donald Trump’s participation in the event is not required.

But it is a longstanding tradition that the outgoing president attends the inauguration, as a very public showing of the peaceful transfer of power and a symbolic showing of national unity after a tough election campaign.

Michelle Obama looks stern while standing with Melania Trump, Donald Trump and Barack Obama
The Obamas participated in the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017.(Reuters: Rob Carr)

Despite White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claiming the President was “never given an orderly transition of power”, he said otherwise in his inaugural address.

Only five US presidents have chosen not to attend the inauguration of the president-elect, the most recent being Richard Nixon in 1974 after his resignation.

This is the last chance Trump will have to appear as President in any official capacity (unless of course, he runs and wins in 2024).

At noon, Joe Biden will take the oath of office and become the 46th president of the United States.



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Coronavirus Australia live news: South Australia’s coronavirus transition committee to meet for the first time


Coronavirus live updates: Friday, November 27

           

Good morning and welcome to the ABC News live coronavirus blog for this Friday morning.

         

Simon Smale with you again to kick things off this morning, and I’ll be joined by Mick Doyle later on. Thanks for being with us.

           

There’s no national cabinet today, but we are expecting plenty of news, so keep it here and we’ll see how we go.

          

            

For our American audience, there’s no US Politics blog today, but here’s your cursory Thanksgiving comment and gif.

          



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Dow crests 30,000 points on vaccine hopes, Biden transition – Long Island Business News


The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through 30,000 points Tuesday as investors were encouraged by the latest progress on developing coronavirus vaccines and news that the transition of power in the U.S. to President-elect Joe Biden will finally begin. Traders were also encouraged to see that Biden had selected Janet Yellen, a widely respected former Federal Reserve chair, as treasury secretary. The Dow rose 454 points, or 1.5%, to close at 30,046. The S&P 500 index, which has a far greater impact on 401(k) accounts than the Dow does, rose 1.6%. Treasury yields rose as investors became more optimistic about the economy.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: AP’s earlier story appears below

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded above 30,000 points for the first time Tuesday as investors were encouraged by the latest progress on developing coronavirus vaccines and news that the transition of power in the U.S. to President-elect Joe Biden will finally begin.

Traders were also encouraged to see that Biden had selected Janet Yellen, a widely respected former Federal Reserve chair, as treasury secretary. The Dow rose more than 400 points, or 1.4%, to trade just over 30,000 Tuesday afternoon. The S&P 500 index, which has a far greater impact on 401(k) accounts than the Dow, rose 1.5%.

The gains extend a monthlong market rally driven by growing optimism that development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments will loosen the pandemic’s stranglehold on the economy. They also mark a rapid climb for the Dow from its March 23 low of just under 18,600 during the worst of its early pandemic nosedive.

“We are one step closer to moving past the election uncertainty,” said Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest. “People are still optimistic about what 2021 has to bring, from an economic perspective and an earnings perspective.”

The Dow was up 444 points to 30,037 as of 3:03 p.m. Eastern time. Boeing, which brings a heavy weight to the Dow, rose 3%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite was up 1.2%.

Traders are favoring stocks that stand to gain the most from a gradual reopening of the economy, such as banks and industrial companies. Overseas markets also rose. Treasury yields and oil prices were headed higher.

“There’s some relief that Biden is choosing moderates to fill out the cabinet,” said Barry Bannister, head of institutional equity strategy at Stifel. Bannister also said the encouraging vaccine news continues to give hope that there is an end in sight to the pandemic.

On Monday, the head of the federal General Services Administration acknowledged that Biden is the apparent winner of this month’s presidential election. That allows the incoming president to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20, despite ongoing efforts by President Donald Trump to overturn the election.

Word that Biden has chosen Yellen as treasury secretary also added to investors’ confidence. Widely admired in the financial world, Yellen would be the first woman to lead the department in a line stretching back to Alexander Hamilton in 1789, taking on a pivotal role to help shape policies at a perilous time.

“She’s also pretty pro-fiscal stimulus and she’s able to effectively work with people across the aisle,” Bell said. “She showed that in her time at the Fed.”

Stocks have been pushing higher this month, driving the S&P 500 up by more than 10%, as investors have grown more hopeful that the development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments will help pave the way for the economy recover next year.

The latest vaccine developments are also tempering lingering concerns over rising virus cases in the U.S., as well as in Asia and other parts of the world, and new government restrictions on businesses aimed at limiting the spread.

On Monday, drugmaker AstraZeneca reported surprisingly good results from ongoing vaccine studies. It said its potential vaccine, which is being developed with Oxford University, was up to 90% effective. Unlike rival candidates, AstraZeneca’s doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute.

Last week, Pfizer and Moderna both reported study results showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. And, over the weekend, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received U.S. government approval for emergency use of its COVID-19 treatment. The drug, which Trump received when he was sickened last month, is meant to try to prevent hospitalization and worsening disease from developing in patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms.

Treasury yields rose as investors became more optimistic about the prospects for economic growth. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 0.88% from 0.84% late Monday.

Trading is expected to be light on Wall Street this week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, when U.S. stock markets will be closed. They will reopen on Friday for a half-day trading session.

European markets were broadly higher, and Asian markets closed mixed.





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US stock exchange rockets as Biden transition looks set to begin; Aussie retailers under scrutiny; Travel interest surges after Queensland reopens border


President-Elect Joe Biden is introducing his Cabinet nominees and appointees to key national security and foreign policy posts, including the first woman to lead the US intelligence community and first Latino to helm the Department of Homeland Security.

The six foreign policy and national security nominees and appointees, which were unveiled yesterday, are on stage with him in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Today I’m pleased to announce nomination for positions in my administration. It is a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure. And it is a team that reflects the fact that America is back. Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,” Mr Biden said.

“The team meets this moment, this team behind me. They embody my core believes that America is strongest when it works with its allies,” Biden continued. “Collectively this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory.”

Earlier, President Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, abruptly came into the White House briefing room Tuesday for remarks scheduled minutes before on the stock market that clocked in just over one minute.

The Dow hit 30,000 for the first time earlier Tuesday as uncertainty about the outcome of the presidential election lifted and new hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine could soon be available.

Mr Trump made brief remarks and did not take any questions.

“I just want to congratulate everybody. The stock market, Dow Jones Industrial Average, just hit 30,000, which is the highest in history. We’ve never broken 30,000, and that’s just, despite everything that’s taken place with the pandemic.

“I’m very thrilled with what’s happened on the vaccine front, that’s been absolutely incredible. Nothing like that has ever happened, medically, and I think people are acknowledging that, and it’s having a big effect.”



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Trump relents after steady drumbeat of fellow Republicans urge start of Biden transition


President Donald Trump gave some ground on Monday to allow Joe Biden’s transition to the presidency after the ranks grew of prominent Republicans calling for Trump to end efforts to overturn his election defeat.

Twenty days after Election Day, most members of Trump’s party still refused on Monday to refer to Biden as president-elect, or question Trump’s insistence — without evidence — that he only lost on November 3 because of fraud.

The ground shifted significantly, however, late on Monday. Trump gave the go-ahead for federal funds to start flowing to Biden so that he can carry out his transition duties before his January 20 inauguration as the 46th U.S. president.

Trump, however, did not formally concede the election to Biden. And leading Republicans in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, offered no immediate reaction as the way appeared to clear for Biden to be fully recognized as president-elect.

Intensifying pressure from some Republicans may have factored in Trump’s move to allow funding for Biden’s transition. But possibly as consequential, if not more, was Michigan’s certification of Biden’s victory in that state.

Judicial defeats

Trump’s legal team has also suffered a string of judicial defeats in its bid to prevent states from certifying Biden as the presidential election winner, and legal experts say the remaining cases do not give Trump a viable path to overturning the election results.

Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who represents West Virginia, which overwhelmingly backed Trump, issued a statement earlier on Monday saying there was no indication that any election irregularities were widespread enough to call Biden’s victory into question.

Republican Senator Rob Portman, co-chairman of Trump’s campaign in Ohio who rarely breaks with party leaders, said there was no evidence of widespread election fraud and called for the transition to begin.

“It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward,” Portman wrote in a Cincinnati Enquirer opinion column on Monday.

However, Portman did not refer to Biden as “president-elect” and referred to his becoming the next president as a “likely event.” Capito also did not refer to Biden as president-elect.

Senator Lamar Alexander, who is retiring from his Tennessee Senate seat at the end of the year, called on Trump to “put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed.”

In a statement issued after Michigan certified its election results in a blow to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, Alexander said, “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”

‘Dangerous assault’

Calls for Trump to accept defeat have been stronger outside Washington, even from some of his staunchest supporters, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who called Trump’s behaviour “a national embarrassment” in an interview on ABC.

And more than 100 former Republican national security officials published a letter on Monday asking that party leaders denounce Trump’s refusal to concede, calling it a dangerous assault on democracy and national security.



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Trump Administration Approves Start of Formal Transition to Biden


WASHINGTON — President Trump’s government on Monday authorized President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to begin a formal transition process after Michigan certified Mr. Biden as its winner, a strong sign that the president’s last-ditch bid to overturn the results of the election was coming to an end.

Mr. Trump did not concede, and vowed to persist with efforts to change the vote, which have so far proved fruitless. But the president said on Twitter on Monday night that he accepted the decision by Emily W. Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, to allow a transition to proceed.

In his tweet, Mr. Trump said that he had told his officials to begin “initial protocols” involving the handoff to Mr. Biden “in the best interest of our country,” though his announcement followed weeks of trying to subvert a free and fair election with false claims of fraud.

Ms. Murphy’s designation of Mr. Biden as the apparent victor provides the incoming administration with federal funds and resources and clears the way for the president-elect’s advisers to coordinate with Trump administration officials.

The decision from Ms. Murphy came after several additional senior Republican lawmakers, as well as leading figures from business and world affairs, denounced the delay in allowing the peaceful transfer of power to begin, a holdup that Mr. Biden and his top aides said was threatening national security and the ability of the incoming administration to effectively plan for combating the coronavirus pandemic.

And it followed a key court decision in Pennsylvania, where the state’s Supreme Court on Monday ruled against the Trump campaign and the president’s Republican allies, stating that roughly 8,000 ballots with signature or date irregularities must be counted.

In Michigan, the statewide canvassing board, with two Republicans and two Democrats, voted, 3 to 0, to approve the results, with one Republican abstaining. It officially delivered to Mr. Biden a key battleground that Mr. Trump had wrested away from Democrats four years ago, and rebuffed the president’s legal and political efforts to overturn the results.

By Monday evening, as Mr. Biden moved ahead with plans to fill out his cabinet, broad sectors of the nation had delivered a blunt message to a defeated president: His campaign to stay in the White House and subvert the election, unrealistic from the start, was nearing the end.

Ms. Murphy said she made her decision on Monday because of “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results,” most likely referring to the certification of votes by election officials in Michigan and a nearly unbroken string of court decisions that have rejected Mr. Trump’s challenges in several states.

In a statement, Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of Mr. Biden’s transition, said that Ms. Murphy’s decision was “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation.”

He added that aides to Mr. Biden would soon begin meeting with Trump administration officials “to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”

Mr. Trump had been resisting any move toward a transition. But in conversations in recent days that intensified Monday morning, top aides — including Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel; and Jay Sekulow, the president’s personal lawyer — told the president the transition needed to begin. He did not need to say the word “concede,” they told him, according to multiple people briefed on the discussions.

Mr. Trump continued to solicit opinions from associates, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, who told him there were still legal avenues to pursue, the people said.

Some of the advisers drafted a statement for the president to issue. In the end, Mr. Trump did not put one out, but aides said the tone was similar to his tweets in the evening, in which he appeared to take credit for Ms. Murphy’s decision to allow the transition to begin.

“Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!” he wrote. “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.”

In a letter to Mr. Biden, which was first reported by CNN, Ms. Murphy rebutted Mr. Trump’s assertion that he had directed her to make the decision, saying that “I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts.” She said she was “never directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official — including those who work at the White House or the G.S.A.”

“I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process,” she wrote, defending her delay by saying that she did not want to get ahead of the constitutional process of counting votes and picking a president.

Her letter appeared designed not to antagonize Mr. Trump and his supporters. In it, she did not describe Mr. Biden as the president-elect even as she said the transition could begin.

One associate with knowledge of Ms. Murphy’s thinking said that she always anticipated signing off on the transition but that she needed a defensible rationale to do so in the absence of a concession from Mr. Trump; the recent pro-Biden developments in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as Georgia, which certified Mr. Biden’s win there last Friday, provided a clear justification for moving ahead.

That decision was part of a cascade of events over the last several days that appeared to signal the end of Mr. Trump’s attempts to resist the will of the voters.

Large counties in Pennsylvania were formalizing Mr. Biden’s victory in the state. And in a major break with the president, General Motors announced it would no longer back the administration’s efforts to nullify California’s fuel economy rules.

On Capitol Hill, most of Mr. Trump’s Republican allies had stood by his side for the past two weeks as he tried to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory. But on Monday, some of the Senate’s most senior Republicans sharply urged Ms. Murphy to allow the transition to proceed.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is retiring, issued his second call in recent days for a prompt transition.

“Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed,” said Mr. Alexander, a close friend of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”

Earlier in the day, Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, both Republicans, issued statements breaking from Mr. Trump and calling for Mr. Biden to begin receiving coronavirus and national security briefings.

“At some point, the 2020 election must end,” Ms. Capito said.

The pressure on Mr. Trump extended beyond the political sphere. More than 100 business leaders sent a letter to the administration on Monday asking it to facilitate a transition, and a group of Republican national security experts implored Republican members of Congress to demand that Mr. Trump concede.

One of the president’s staunchest supporters, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the private equity firm Blackstone, did not sign the business leaders’ letter but said in a statement that “the outcome is very certain today and the country should move on.”

But the most dramatic evidence that Mr. Trump’s efforts to challenge the election were fading on Monday came in Michigan, where days of speculation about the certification of the state’s vote ended with the 3-0 vote by the canvassing board. It came after several hours of comments from local clerks, elected officials and the public, most of whom said that the board’s only legal role was to certify the results of the election, not to audit them.

As the meeting wore on, it became clear that one Republican member of the canvassing board, Aaron Van Langevelde, was leaning toward certifying. He asked multiple times if the board had the legal authority to do anything else.

“There is nothing in the law that gives me the authority to request an audit,” he said. “I think the law is on my side here. We have no authority to request an audit or delay or block the certification.”

The other Republican on the board, Norm Shinkle, abstained from the vote.

Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic secretary of state in Michigan, said in a statement that “democracy has prevailed” against “an unprecedented attack on its integrity.” She said the state would now begin procedures, including a risk-limiting audit, to further affirm the integrity of the election.

Another crucial swing state, Pennsylvania, was also moving toward cementing results on Monday, with multiple counties certifying the vote counts, despite some scattered efforts by local Republicans to halt the process. Mr. Biden won Pennsylvania by about 80,000 votes.

In Allegheny County, the state’s second-largest county and home to Pittsburgh, the county board voted 2 to 1 to certify the results. And in Philadelphia, the largest county, the city commissioners certified the results on Monday night after the state’s Supreme Court rejected a Republican request to disqualify the 8,000 absentee ballots.

Pennsylvania law dictates that counties must certify their votes by the third Monday after the election, but there is no real penalty for missing the deadline.

Statewide results will not be officially certified until all counties report, after which the process will move to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and then to Gov. Tom Wolf for the final signature and awarding of electors. Both officials are Democrats.

Despite the counties’ certifications on Monday, the Trump campaign filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, seeking to halt statewide certification.

Still, the Trump campaign’s legal challenges, led by Mr. Giuliani, have been so unsuccessful and widely mocked that the president acknowledged to advisers that the former New York City mayor’s appearances had become a debacle.

Michael D. Shear reported from Washington, Maggie Haberman and Nick Corasaniti from New York, and Jim Rutenberg from Montauk, N.Y. Kathleen Gray contributed reporting from Bloomfield Hills, Mich.





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Biden-Harris transition team celebrates GSA ascertainment as final & definitive action — RT USA News



The Joe Biden-Kamala Harris transition team said it looked forward to a smooth transfer of power after the General Services Administration authorized the presidential handoff, while also taking a shot at the outgoing president.

“Today’s decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” the team wrote in a statement on Monday, calling the move a “definitive” and “final decision” to formally begin the transition. 

In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response… and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.

The missive comes after GSA head Emily Murphy signed the official “letter of ascertainment” earlier on Monday, which opens up transition funds for the Biden campaign and paves the way for him to take office by inauguration day in January. Murphy had previously declined to sign the letter amid ongoing legal challenges from President Donald Trump’s campaign, but ultimately did so, insisting the delay was not the result of pressure from the White House.

While vowing to continue the legal battle to overturn the election result, Trump did not contest Murphy’s decision, saying it was “in the best interest of our country” for her to initiate the transition while his challenges continue to play out in court.



Also on rt.com
Trump ‘recommends’ to move ahead on ‘initial transition protocols’ while vowing to STRONGLY challenge 2020 election results


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