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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11:36 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Behind the scenes, some alarmed GOP senators are considering more forceful pressure on Trump

From CNN's Dana Bash

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

A GOP Senate source told CNN that the combination of Rudy Giuliani’s news conference yesterday and the President meddling in the Michigan election process has some GOP senators reconsidering their silence.

This source says most had hoped that Trump’s tirade would have worked itself out by now, but his actions in the last 24 hours make that hope seem more and more distant.

The source didn’t want to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the topic.

This source said that a handful of GOP senators are talking about whether and how to interject in a way that will be most effective with the President.

There is some talk of trying to talk to the President and trying to implore him to go out on a high note by touting wins in the House, and helping win the two outstanding Georgia seats — not to mention taking credit for the vaccine movement and other accomplishments.

The source emphasized, however, that this is not a leadership position right now – more rank and file Republicans.

Remember: Trump has refused to concede the race and blocked his administration from taking any of the administrative steps typically taken in a transfer of power. This includes allowing the General Services Administration to declare that there is a president-elect  — a move that triggers the transition process.

12:05 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Biden announces more members of White House senior staff

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

President-elect Joe Biden has announced another round of White House staff that demonstrate he intends to continue acting on his pledge to make his administration reflect the diversity of the country. The staff positions announced today will be filled by longtime aides to the Bidens. 

Louisa Terrell, who served as Executive Director for the Biden Foundation, will become Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. She comes to the position with experience that includes acting as the Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs in the Obama-Biden administration. 

As CNN reported Thursday, Carlos Elizondo will be White House Social Secretary. 

Elizondo worked in the Obama administration as social secretary for then-vice president Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden. He will be only the second man to serve as White House Social Secretary and will inherit a unique dynamic as the White House adapts its activities to the age of coronavirus. He is the third Latino to be named to the East Wing. Earlier in the week, Anthony Bernal was named as a senior adviser to Jill Biden and Julissa Reynosa Pantaleon was tapped as her chief of staff.

Ambassador Cathy Russell will assume the role of Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Russell served at the White House and the State Department for both of President Barack Obama's terms, and she currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Biden-Harris Transition Team. Prior to that, se served as Vice Chair of the Biden-Harris Campaign.

Future First Lady Jill Biden's Policy Director will be Mala Adiga, who served as her senior advisor and a senior policy advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign. Adiga — who will work for a First Lady who has said she intends to prioritize education and military families in her portfoli — previously worked at the Biden Foundation as Director for Higher Education and Military Families. 

11:09 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Conversations underway about inviting Pennsylvania lawmakers to the White House

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

A Marine stands outside the entrance to the West Wing of the White House, signifying that President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office on November 10.
A Marine stands outside the entrance to the West Wing of the White House, signifying that President Donald Trump is in the Oval Office on November 10. Evan Vucci/AP

Two sources tell CNN there are discussions currently underway with the President about inviting Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to the White House.

It's not clear if those invitations have been extended yet, but President Trump has expressed interest in doing so as he tries to insert himself into the vote certification process.

This would be another brazen step on the heels of Trump meeting with lawmakers from Michigan this afternoon. The deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their totals is Monday.

10:57 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Biden's senior advisor on Trump legal effort: "There is harm being done to the Democratic process"

From CNN's Jessica Schneider

Biden for President Senior Advisor Bob Bauer warned in a 30-minute Zoom call with reporters that “there is harm being done to the democratic process” and he slammed the Trump legal effort.

“The harm is real,” Bauer said. “There is no chance Donald Trump can be successful in what he is trying to do.”

In particular, Bauer blasted Rudy Giuliani’s takeover of the Trump legal effort ridiculing Giuliani’s performance in federal court in Pennsylvania this week, calling it a “spectacle” where Giuliani showed up completely unprepared for the case.

Bauer said that all of the Trump campaign’s efforts to stop the certification process in battleground states will fail, as well as any efforts to convince state legislators to elect a slate of pro-Trump electors.

“The election is over,” Bauer stated. “Everyone knows the election is over.”

10:50 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

There will be a White House press briefing today

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

There will be a press briefing with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later today, an official confirms to CNN. The briefing is scheduled for noon ET.

The last time McEnany briefed reporters from the White House briefing room podium was Oct. 1, the Thursday before President Trump — and then, McEnany herself — tested positive for Covid-19.

Questions about the election and the coronavirus pandemic will likely come up.

10:49 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Biden expected to make first Cabinet announcements next week

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has expedited the selection of his Cabinet and is planning to make the first of several key announcements next week, an official said, as part of a concerted effort to show that he is moving forward despite President Trump's increasingly brazen attempts to sabotage the election.

On Thursday, Biden said he has settled on his choice for Treasury secretary, but officials said he's also reached a decision — or is on the cusp of doing so — on other critical Cabinet posts, a few of which are expected to be announced before Thanksgiving.

Monday and Tuesday are being eyed as tentative days for the first introductions of members of Biden's Cabinet, an official said, with others coming later.

Lael Brainard, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, is seen as the top contender to lead the Treasury Department. If selected, she would become the first woman to serve in that position, a move that would help Biden to start to deliver on his pledge to name a diverse Cabinet.

But three officials close to the Biden transition declined to say whether Brainard was the final choice, saying it is a closely held decision that the President-elect would likely reveal right after Thanksgiving.

But Biden could announce his choice for secretary of State as soon as next week, officials said, along with another Cabinet post.

While Biden is well-known for his deliberate and often slow decision-making, particularly on personnel matters, the timeline of some Cabinet decisions is being accelerated because of a desire to move quickly to form a new government in the wake of Trump's intransigence about the election.

Read more here.

11:36 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Michigan House speaker will meet with Trump today, source says

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Caroline Kelly

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield is going to the White House today, a source familiar with the plans told CNN.

The news comes after President Trump invited Republican state lawmakers from Michigan to the White House on Friday, a person familiar with the matter told CNN on Thursday, as the President and his legal team continue to mount efforts to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump extended the invitation on Thursday morning to the Michigan lawmakers by calling the state senate's Republican majority leader Mike Shirkey, the person familiar previously told CNN.

Shirkey has not responded to emails from CNN either, and his phone mailbox was also full.

Trump also called two Republican canvass board members from Wayne County to offer his support, the person said Thursday, after they went back and forth on voting to certify the election results from the state's largest county, which includes Detroit. The board members filed affidavits Wednesday seeking to "rescind" their votes to certify the election result.

It's not clear what Trump's message to the Michigan GOP lawmakers will be. Both Shirkey and Chatfield have said that they will honor their state's popular vote and not stray from the process of how electors in Michigan are selected.

Biden currently has an approximate 154,187-vote lead over Trump in the Great Lakes State.

On Sept. 24, Shirkey led the Senate to pass a resolution assuring that electors will vote for the candidate with the most votes as certified by election officials.

WATCH:

9:28 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Trump will appear in front of reporters today for the first time in a week

From CNN's Matthew Hoye

President Trump attends a virtual meeting between world leaders during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Friday.
President Trump attends a virtual meeting between world leaders during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on Friday. Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump will publicly appear on camera for an official event today — his first on-camera event in front of reporters in a week.

At 2:30 p.m. ET, Trump will deliver remarks on prescription drug prices. It's not clear if the President will take questions.

Trump also participated in the virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this morning, but the event was closed to the press. 

The President has invited Republican state lawmakers from Michigan to the White House today, according to a person familiar with the matter, as Trump and his legal team are mounting an effort to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden. This event is not currently on his schedule.

Trump's previous on-camera event was last Friday, Nov. 13 when he delivered a speech in the White House Rose Garden and touted his administration's efforts to help produce a coronavirus vaccine.

8:52 a.m. ET, November 20, 2020

Georgia will certify Biden’s win today, officials say

From CNN's Jason Morris, Amara Walker, Wes Bruer and Marshall Cohen

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger attends a news conference in Atlanta on November 11.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger attends a news conference in Atlanta on November 11. Brynn Anderson/AP

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Friday that he’ll certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory later in the day, and will formalize the razor-thin presidential results after a statewide audit.

Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said certification will occur around 10 a.m. ET Friday.

Raffensperger, a Republican, told reporters that the audit confirmed that Georgia’s voters picked Biden.

“Numbers don’t lie,” he said. “As Secretary of State, I believe that the numbers that we are presented today are correct.”

Perhaps in a move to pacify Trump supporters, Raffensperger said, “Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes.”

When the results are certified, it will be a major blow to Trump’s longshot efforts to overturn the election results. Certifying election results is typically a formality, but the arcane process has become the latest battleground in Trump's 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.

The scheme essentially becomes impossible if key states certify their presidential results before Dec. 8, which is known as a "safe harbor" deadline under federal law. Georgia has now certified its results, which means it met the deadline and that Congress is required to respect these results.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has until 5 p.m. ET Saturday to sign the paperwork that officially grants Georgia's 16 electors to Biden, according to state law. Kemp has been relatively quiet during the post-election audit, and CNN has asked his office if he plans to sign the paperwork without incident.

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit to delay Georgia’s certification. The case was brought by one of the potential Republican electors, and the Trump campaign was not officially involved. Lin Wood, who brought the lawsuit, would have served as a pro-Trump elector if Trump won Georgia.