Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:51 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020
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7:07 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Georgia governor certifies state's electoral votes for Biden

From CNN's Jason Morris and Marshall Cohen

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday signed the paperwork that officially grants the state's 16 electoral votes to President-elect Joe Biden.

“The Governor has formalized the certification delivered to our office by the Secretary of State – as is required by state law,” Kemp spokesperson Tate Mitchell told CNN in an email.

Earlier on Friday, Kemp announced he would “follow the law” and certify the electoral votes for Biden.

State law requires Kemp, a Republican, to award Georgia’s electoral votes to the certified winner of the presidential election. A federal judge on Thursday rejected a last-ditch lawsuit that tried to block certification, and Biden’s victory was certified Friday afternoon by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

“Earlier today, Secretary Raffensperger presented the certified results of the 2020 general election to my office,” Kemp said at a news conference. “Following Judge (Steven) Grimberg’s ruling yesterday, state law now requires the governor’s office to formalize the certification, which paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options and a separate recount if they choose.”

Kemp later added, “As governor, I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law, and that is what I will do.”

Because of the close margin, the Trump campaign can request a recount. Georgia already conducted a statewide audit, hand-counting about 5 million ballots, to any future recount is extremely unlikely to change the results.

Certifying election results is typically a formality, but the process has become the latest battleground in President Trump's longshot attempt to cling onto power. His campaign is trying to block or delay certification in key states in hopes of overturning Biden's victory through the Electoral College.

After the news conference, Kemp’s office put out a news release saying, explicitly, “Governor Kemp Formalizes Election Certification.” But Kemp also embraced some of Trump’s complaints about the process in Georgia. 

Kemp asked Raffensperger to conduct a partial audit of absentee ballots to double-check that the signatures matched – caving to a persistent demand from Trump throughout the post-election process. It’s unclear if this can happen at this stage of the process, and CNN has reached out to Raffensperger’s office for comment. 

Trump has berated Kemp on Twitter over the signature-matching issue, blaming the governor for a legal agreement the state reached earlier this year with Democratic groups regarding absentee ballots. Raffensberger's office has said Trump is mischaracterizing that agreement, known as a consent decree, by falsely claiming it weakened verification rules for absentee ballots. Signature-matching is used to verify the identity of absentee voters.

Kemp also said it was “unacceptable” that small batches of uncounted ballots were found during the audit. Election officials have repeatedly said these mishandled ballots were caused by mistakes and incompetence – not fraud.

Watch:

5:36 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

What to know about the Michigan State Board meeting Monday to certify election results

From CNN's Annie Grayer

People vote in the 2020 general election at the Northwest Activities Center on November 3, in Detroit.
People vote in the 2020 general election at the Northwest Activities Center on November 3, in Detroit. Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers is scheduled to meet on Nov. 23 to certify election results. The board’s certification of election results is what triggers electors to be selected, which is what gets sent to the Electoral College. 

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans. The members are appointed by the governor “with the advice and consent of the Senate,” according to the law

Here's what we know:

  • What the board can and cannot do: The role of the board is very narrow and limited. It is to canvass and certify election results. Michigan election law experts told reporters Friday that the language of the law, which states that the board “shall canvass the returns” is key to understanding the requirements of the board. The board cannot ask for an audit prior to certification, according to Michigan law. The board cannot try to certify part of the results for the state and not all of it, as was suggested by the Republican chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers at their certification meeting that received a lot of pushback at the time.
  • What happens if there is a 2-2 deadlock? If the board becomes locked in a 2-2 partisan deadlock like what initially happened with the Wayne County Board of Canvassers on Tuesday, two parallel processes can occur. The first avenue to force certification is through the courts. If the board fails to certify on Nov. 23, the Michigan Court of Appeals will order the board to certify. If the issue is not resolved by the Court of Appeals, it would go to the Michigan Supreme Court, but Michigan election lawyers agreed Friday that it going to that level is unlikely. 
  • Can the legislature get involved and appoint their own electors? The short answer, according to Michigan election experts, is no. Even if the State Board of Canvassers refuses to certify results and the issue goes to the courts and potentially Gov. Gretchen Whitmer steps in, Michigan election lawyers explained that the legislature cannot try to appoint their own electors.
  • Can certification votes be rescinded? In Wayne County, after the board certified its results, the two Republican members of the board submitted affidavits trying to recall their votes. Since the affidavits were submitted after the deadline for certification at the county level passed, there was no way to recall their votes. The same is true at the state level. Once the board certifies the results, the meeting is adjourned. To recall votes, the board would have to call another meeting, but Michigan election experts said Friday that would not happen.
4:54 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Georgia's secretary of state certifies Biden's win

From CNN's Marshall Cohen and Jason Morris

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta, on November 20.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta, on November 20. Brynn Anderson/AP

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has certified President-elect Joe Biden's narrow victory in the state, according to a news release.

The announcement caps off a whirlwind day where Raffensperger’s office announced that the results were certified, only to send a “correction” one hour later, saying the process was still ongoing. They followed that up with a third news release around 4 p.m. that said certification was completed.

An official from the Raffensperger’s office told CNN that the latest announcement is accurate, and that the results were certified. This is a blow to President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results.

Biden won Georgia by 12,670 votes, or 0.26% of the nearly 5 million ballots cast statewide, according to final certified results from the Secretary of State.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to follow suit by certifying that Georgia’s electors will go to Biden. It’s unclear when that will happen – the deadline is Saturday night – but Kemp is set to speak tonight.

4:54 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Nevada judge rejects effort to force re-vote in state's largest county

From CNN's Stephanie Becker

Jim Marchant speaks at a Republican election night watch party in Las Vegas, on November 3.
Jim Marchant speaks at a Republican election night watch party in Las Vegas, on November 3. John Locher/AP

A Nevada District judge has denied a request by a losing Republican congressional candidate for a re-vote in the state’s largest county Clark County.

Losing candidate Jim Marchant had requested a new election in just one of the seven counties covered by congressional district – the Democratic-rich Clark County. For that reason, Judge Gloria Sturman denied the request. She also said that it would have been difficult for Marchant to make up the 30,000 votes between Marchant and Democrat Steven Horsford.

A similar case filed by the conservative activist Sharron Angle and the Election Integrity Project begins in Sturman's court soon. And another losing Republican Congressional candidate heads into Sturman’s court on Monday over the same issues. 

 

4:01 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Trump will participate in virtual G20 summit this weekend

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 20.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 20. Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Trump will participate in this weekend's virtual G20 summit, an administration official said. This year's summit is hosted by Saudi Arabia.

It's not clear which sessions he will be present for, but he will represent the US during the yearly gathering of industrialized nations.

3:52 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Biden has first in-person meeting with Pelosi and Schumer since winning presidency

From CNN's Jessica Dean and Arlette Saenz

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington, Delaware. POOL

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington, Delaware.

This is the first in-person meeting the lawmakers hold with Biden since he won the election.

Reporters were allowed in for an extremely brief spray, where the four could be seen sitting around in a socially distant matter at a big table wearing masks. 

Biden told Schumer and Pelosi that when he is President, his Oval Office will be “mi casa, you casa," which translates from Spanish to "my house is your house."

Biden did not answer any shouted questions, and pooled press was ushered out quickly as soon as a question was shouted. 

The meeting comes as Covid-19 cases continue to surge in the country and another stimulus deal is yet to be reached in Congress.

Some of the last remaining stimulus programs for the unemployed, renters and student loan borrowers are set to expire at the end of December unless Congress or President Trump take action. While Congress moved swiftly to deliver trillions of dollars in pandemic relief programs when the country first shut down in March, a lot of those benefits have already lapsed.

Despite bipartisan support for another stimulus package, lawmakers have failed to come to any agreement for months, and there is little confidence that a deal could be reached in the lame-duck session.

More than 2,000 American deaths were recorded by Johns Hopkins University on Thursday — the highest number since early May.

3:57 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Biden's transition team makes fundraising push as Trump agency has yet to recognize his victory

From CNN's Sarah Mucha, Arlette Saenz and Jeff Zeleny

US President-elect Joe Biden speaks after a meeting with governors in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 19.
US President-elect Joe Biden speaks after a meeting with governors in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 19. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden’s team is making a fundraising push for its transition operations as the General Services Administration has yet to ascertain Biden as the election winner – a move that would open up millions of dollars in federal money for the president-elect’s transition work.

The Biden transition team sent it’s a grassroots fundraising plea to its supporter list on Friday, with the e-mail reading, “without ascertainment, we need to fund the transition ourselves, and that's why we're reaching out to you today.”

The transition team started its fundraising efforts months ago and has raised more than $10 million in private donations for the transition efforts so far, a source familiar with the fundraising efforts said. But the e-mail sent today represents a new phase in their fundraising process as they are now turning to grassroots donors in their push. 

More details: Three Democratic bundlers said they have recently received requests to raise more money for the transition operation as the GSA’s ascertainment is stalled. 

The recent fundraising efforts come as the transition is unable to access millions of dollars in appropriated funding for its work as the GSA administrator Emily Murphy has not formally recognized Biden as the winner of the election.

“The Biden-Harris transition has been planning for months for all possible scenarios. While we wait for the GSA Administrator to uphold the will of the people and be a proper steward of taxpayer resources, we will execute on contingency plans, including continuing to solicit private funds to support transition planning,” a transition official said. “The nation faces too many challenges to not have a fully funded and smooth transition to prepare the president-elect and vice president-elect to govern on day one.”

The transition team started raising money for its operations several months ago. The maximum contribution to the transition is $5,000, significantly smaller than the $360,600 donation limits for the Biden Victory Fund in the general election.

3:54 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Some House Republicans embrace effort for Trump to try to win through the Electoral College

From CNN's Manu Raju and Sarah Fortinsky 

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 17.
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, on November 17. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Even as some Republicans are starting to speak out about President Trump's attacks on the election results, a wide array of Republicans continue to back the President — and some are endorsing his long-shot strategy of winning in the Electoral College and subverting the will of voters in key battleground states.

North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, who will serve on the House GOP's leadership team in the next Congress, on Friday characterized the unsubstantiated allegations leveled by the Trump team as "breathtaking" and "serious enough that they need to be investigated."

Hudson said "yes" states should delay certifying the results until the allegations are "adequately investigated."

Asked if he'd be okay if state legislatures named electors that differed from the outcome of the vote counts in their states, Hudson told CNN, "Yeah, that's the constitutional process."

"I mean, it's breathtaking to think about," Hudson said of the allegations. "And if it's not true, then there needs to be a reckoning on our side."

Federal law encourages states to resolve disputes over vote-counting by Dec. 8, six days before electors meet in their state capitals to cast their ballots. If Biden’s win is certified by Dec. 8, Congress must recognize the pro-Biden electors. 

Under the longshot theory, Republican-led legislatures could appoint pro-Trump slates of presidential electors, even if Biden carried the popular vote in their state, assuming a state has not certified the vote in time.  

Asked on Thursday if his state should delay certifying the election, Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar told CNN, “I believe it should.” 

Gosar also said the “state has the ability” to name its own electors to the Electoral College if the results aren’t certified as part of the “system set up by our founders.” And when asked if he would support the state legislature naming its own electors, Gosar said, “I do.” 

3:51 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

In remarks on lowering drug prices, Trump seems to imply new administration is coming 

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on drug pricing at the White House in Washington DC, on November 20.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference on drug pricing at the White House in Washington DC, on November 20. Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Trump seemed to recognize that he will not remain President for much longer while delivering remarks on lowering drug prices on Friday, implying that it will be up to the new administration as to whether the rules remain in place. 

“There will never be anything like this. I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep because the powerful drug lobby, big pharma, is putting pressure on people like you would not believe,” Trump said, discussing the most favored nations rule he is finalizing, which would allow the federal government and states to buy prescription drugs from other countries at often lower prices. 

He seemingly recognized that he won’t be in power much longer, however later in his remarks he again falsely claimed he won the election.

Trump also baselessly accused drug companies of withholding news about the efficacy of their vaccines until after the election as some sort of retaliation against Trump for the policies he is instituting. 

Trump added that if an announcement on vaccines was made prior to the election, he might have won.

Trump ended his remarks to the media by refusing to take any questions from reporters.

This was his first public appearance in a week. He last took questions from the press on Election Day, 17 days ago and still won't publicly acknowledge that he has lost the election. 

His speech in the briefing room lasted just 22 minutes.