Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:07 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020
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6:48 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Three attorneys pull out of representing the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania lawsuit

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

There’s been yet another shakeup in the Trump campaign’s case to block votes in Pennsylvania.

Three attorneys who were representing the campaign— Linda Kerns, the Philadelphia lawyer who has spearheaded several cases on Trump’s behalf in Pennsylvania, and Texans John Scott and Douglas Bryan Hughes—are withdrawing. 

They say a new lawyer, Marc Scaringi, a Republican who runs a small firm in Harrisburg, will be stepping in. 

This comes a day before arguments in the case over whether it should be dismissed, and shortly after several of President Trump’s legal avenues were shut down.

Last week, a midsized law firm named Porter Wright pulled out of representing the Trump campaign in the case, prompting the Texas duo to step up next to Kerns. The President announced his own shakeup of his legal team over the weekend, putting Rudy Giuliani in charge. 

6:32 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Ballots found during Georgia audit so far won't change outcome, official says

From CNN's Wes Bruer and Marshall Cohen 

Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling
Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling CNN

About 2,600 uncounted ballots were found in Floyd County, Georgia, during the ongoing statewide recount, netting more votes for President Trump, but not nearly enough to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, according to Gabriel Sterling, who manages the state’s election system. 

Floyd County is a GOP stronghold that Trump won with 70% of the vote. He’ll net about 800 votes from the new batch of ballots, Sterling said. Before the audit, Biden led the state by more than 14,000 votes. 

“It doesn't change the final outcome, but it does change the percentages slightly,” Sterling said. 

An investigation is underway, but it’s already clear that the ballots went missing because of “human error” and were not part of any systematic effort to undermine the election, Sterling said. The 2,600 new ballots weren’t scanned when Floyd County was tabulating its in-person early votes, Sterling said. 

Sterling said state officials have “zero concern (that) this is an issue with Dominion software,” referring to the election technology company that Trump has falsely accused of committing nationwide fraud. 

Earlier on Monday, local GOP officials Floyd County spread false claims that the issue there was caused by Dominion Voting Systems. The Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly debunked the Trump-backed conspiracy theory that Dominion software allegedly deleted millions of Trump votes. 

Despite the issue in Floyd County, Sterling said a majority of counties are finished with their audits and that "the majority of the counties are finding zero deviations" from the originally reported results. As of Monday afternoon, local officials had audited 4.3 million of the nearly 5 million ballots cast in the state. 

Sterling and other Republican officials have repeatedly defended the integrity of the presidential election in Georgia, even while Trump and his allies push baseless accusations of widespread fraud.

6:07 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

White House coronavirus task force briefings are not addressing transition, governor says

From CNN’s Andy Rose

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown CNN

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the latest White House coronavirus task force telebriefing with governors completely ignored the results of the November election.

“The conversation was extremely disingenuous when we have a new administration coming in, in a matter of weeks,” Brown told CNN on Monday. 

The Trump administration has refused to publicly acknowledge the projected victory of President-elect Joe Biden, and Brown said that intransigence is spilling over into the health briefings.

“There was no conversation about what the handoff was going to be and how they were going to ensure that the Biden-Harris administration will be fully prepared and ready to accept the baton,” said Brown.
5:37 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

GOP leaders continue to downplay Trump's election lies

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, which oversees elections, downplayed President Trump's claims that the election was rigged.

“I'm not overly concerned,” Blunt said.

Asked if he thinks Trump won the election, Blunt said, “There’s a process for that. We are about at the end of the time period where you can make your case in court. Let’s let him do that.” 

Asked if Trump should have tweeted he won, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker said, “I would have advised against that.” 

Wicker, who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said he supported Biden getting intelligence briefings but also said that Trump is "entitled to have his day in court, and I support that."

Asked if the elections were rigged, as Trump said, Sen. John Cornyn, who won his race this fall, said, "I don't know if he's referring to a specific incident or generally."

Cornyn seemed to think that Trump's claims of fraud won't change the election.

"I haven't seen anything that would change the outcome," he said.

Asked if he had a reaction to Trump falsely claiming he “won the election,” GOP Sen. John Barrasso said he had “nothing new” to say about it. 

“Oh, nothing new from what I've been saying,” Barrasso replied, then pointed to how it’s important to count every legal vote, and that Trump is within his legal rights to pursue recounts where it’s called for. 

The Wyoming senator also dodged a question on whether he agrees with Trump that the election was “rigged.” 

“There have been a number of tweets that have been back and forth, so I'm not sure what the most recent one was,” Barrasso said in response.

5:34 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Largest Nevada county certifies presidential election results

From CNN’s Andy Rose

The largest county in Nevada certified its November election results for the presidential race Monday. 

Joe Biden beat President Trump in Clark County by 90,922 votes, with a margin of nine percentage points. 

Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said they found discrepancies between the number of voters processed and the number of ballots counted amounting to 936 votes countywide. But that is well under Biden’s unofficial statewide margin of victory of over 30,000 votes.

However, the snafu may result in a do-over in one local election. The margin of victory for one seat on the Clark County Commission was only 10 votes, in a district with 139 discrepancies.

“That's the only race in the entire election where we have any concern related to the outcome,” said Gloria. 

Without the ability to determine what caused those discrepancies, the county commission voted to put certification of that race on hold as they consider whether they must hold a special election to vote again.

But Commissioner Jim Gibson stressed that the uncertainty about who won a single commission seat “bears not at all on the outcome of any other race.”

5:22 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

United Auto Workers express need for economic package in meeting with Biden and Harris

From CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich

In a meeting with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris, United Auto Workers President Rory Gamble said he and other business leaders expressed “an acute need for an immediate economic package for those hard hit by this pandemic.” 

The meeting, which took place remotely Monday, “was a productive and honest discussion of the challenges we all face in manufacturing and business to wrestle control of a very difficult situation for our economy,” Gamble said in statement following the meeting.

Gamble also called on the incoming administration to protect frontline workers, as well as the health and safety of UAW members who work at the big three Detroit auto companies: General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.

“Testing, PPE equipment, and a plan for distribution for a vaccine, when available, are crucial as is the ability for workers, management and government to work together through this pandemic nimbly and efficiently in order to save lives,” he said.

The United Auto Workers union endorsed Biden in April.

5:18 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Wisconsin recount would cost Trump campaign $7.9 million

From CNN's Caroline Kenny

In this Tuesday, November 3, file photo, poll workers sort out early and absentee ballots at the Kenosha Municipal building on Election Day, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In this Tuesday, November 3, file photo, poll workers sort out early and absentee ballots at the Kenosha Municipal building on Election Day, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Wong Maye-E/AP/FILE

The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Monday that if President Trump’s campaign wants a recount of the razor-thin presidential race in the state, they will need to pay $7.9 million upfront. 

CNN projected that President-elect Joe Biden will win Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes. According to unofficial results, Biden leads Trump by 20,470 votes, or 0.62%. That close outcome makes the race eligible for a recount if the losing candidate requests one. But because Biden’s winning margin is larger than 0.25%, state law says that the Trump campaign must prepay the estimated cost of the recount.

Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin's chief elections official, said Monday that the estimated price tag is $7.9 million, which is much higher than the $2 million statewide recount that was conducted after the 2016 election. 

“These estimates are significantly higher than the actual costs of the 2016 recount, but they take into account factors not present four years ago, including the need for larger spaces to permit public observation and social distancing, security for those spaces, the higher number of absentee ballots, a compressed timeframe over a holiday, and renting high-speed ballot scanning equipment," Wolfe said.

The deadline to file for a recount and submit payment Wednesday at 5 p.m. CT, and that day is the only day that the Trump campaign can file its request. The recount must be completed by Dec. 1, which is also the deadline, under state law, for the Wisconsin Elections Commission to certify the results.

Wolfe added that the Wisconsin Elections Commission still has not received an official request from the Trump campaign for a recount, but they want to be prepared. The Trump campaign previously announced that it wants a recount in Wisconsin and, has pushed false conspiracy theories about voting irregularities. 

“We still have not received any indication that there will or will not be a recount,” Wolfe said.

4:56 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

Two Georgia counties finish recounts without finding any issues

From CNN's Amara Walker and Jason Morris

At least two small counties in Georgia finished their presidential recounts without finding any discrepancies. 

CNN projected that President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes. Unofficial results put Biden ahead of President Trump by about 14,000 votes, or about 0.3%. But due to the tight margin, state officials decided to use the pre-planned audit process to recount every ballot in the presidential race. 

Bacon County, a small county in southeast Georgia, completed its hand recount on Monday and the results were “exactly the same” as the initial tally, according to Jean Hilton, an assistant to the county’s election supervisor Ann Russell. A total of 4,668 people voted in the county – Trump won 87% and Biden got 13%. 

Early County, a small county in southwest Georgia on the border with Alabama, also completed its hand recount “early,” according to Claire Moseley, the county’s elections director. The county tallied 5,217 ballots, with Trump taking 53% and Biden taking 47%, which was the same exact outcome as the initial results.

“We are pretty tiny, so this was quick and easy,” Moseley said. “We were thrilled and shocked.”  

The results from these counties are not surprising, and experts say it would be impossible for Trump to overcome his 14,000-vote deficit in a recount. The audit process is expected to finish in the coming days, and Georgia’s secretary of state says he plans to certify the official results by Friday, as required by state law.

4:55 p.m. ET, November 16, 2020

GOP senators shrug off Trump's conspiracies over election results  

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

Sen. Deb Fischer
Sen. Deb Fischer Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE

Top Senate Republicans seemed unmoved Monday by President Trump's baseless charges that the election was "rigged" and his false assertions that he actually won the election, even though the results show he lost the race despite his efforts to sow distrust over a cornerstone of US democracy.

As Democrats reacted with alarm to Trump's weekend Twitter rants, Republicans shrugged it off.

"He can say whatever he wants," said Sen. Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican who advises Senate GOP leadership.

Asked if she were bothered by Trump's comments, Fischer said, "If I was bothered by everything that everyone around here says, I couldn't come back."

While a growing number of Republicans say that the formal transition process should begin, that Biden should get classified intelligence briefings, and are skeptical that Trump's legal challenges will succeed, few are willing to challenge Trump's lies that the election was stolen from him, an allegation rejected by GOP and Democratic election officials across the country.

The indifference marks a familiar pattern through four years of Trump’s presidency: He stokes a major controversy, and Republicans on Capitol Hill largely ignore it. But this time, Trump is launching one conspiracy theory after another that many fear could sow unrest and have lasting ramifications about trust in US elections and faith in democracy.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the most senior Senate Republican who supports Biden getting classified briefings, downplayed Trump’s false claims that he won the election and baseless charges that the election was rigged.

Asked Monday if Trump should be making such comments, Grassley said, “All that'll be settled by December the 14th,” referring to when electors meet in their state capitals to cast their ballots.

“There’s no sense worrying about anything else except just the number of electors, and whoever got 270 electors is going to be the next president,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said that Trump is within his legal rights to challenge the election, sought to reassure the public last week that the transition would not be interrupted. But on Monday, McConnell was silent when asked if he agrees with Trump’s false claims that he “won the election.”

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday that he has no concerns that Trump is sowing doubt in the democratic process, arguing it’s “fair game” for him to claim victory because “we don’t know yet” who won, despite election results clearly showing Biden on track for an Electoral College victory.

“I’m not concerned about the President saying that he thinks he won the election,” Hawley said. “I think that’s totally fair game. He can go out and make his argument.”