Twitter will give @POTUS account to Biden on Inauguration Day, company says
From CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan
Twitter said it will hand control of the @POTUS account on Inauguration Day to the new Biden administration, the company said Friday.
The @POTUS account is the official account of the president of the United States and is separate to the @realDonaldTrump account Trump uses to tweet.
This will also apply to about a dozen White House accounts, including the @FLOTUS and @PressSec accounts, Nick Pacilio, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN Friday.
“Twitter is actively preparing to support the transition of White House institutional Twitter accounts on January 20th, 2021. As we did for the presidential transition in 2017, this process is being done in close consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration,” Pacilio said in a statement.
An archive of Obama’s @POTUS account can be found under the handle @POTUS44.
7:25 p.m. ET, November 20, 2020
Michigan lawmakers say they're not "aware of any information that would change" the election outcome
From CNN's Annie Grayer, Caroline Kelly and Maegan Vazquez
Members of the Michigan state legislature's Republican leadership who met with President Donald Trump at the White House Friday afternoon said they "have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan."
The Michigan lawmakers — who visited the White House at the invitation of the President — didn't say anything to suggest they were going along with Trump's long-shot effort to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.
"As legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan's electors, just as we have said throughout this election," Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield said in a joint statement after the meeting.
"Michigan's certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation," the lawmakers continued in their statement. "Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan's electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections."
Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and other allies have continued to peddle false claims of nationwide voter fraud.
The leaders said they also talked about Covid-19 relief with the President, and delivered a letter requesting more federal funds to fight the pandemic. They also said that they had accepted Trump's invitation to the White House meeting "as we would accept an invitation from any sitting President if asked to meet at the White House."
State House Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth was also scheduled to attend, a source familiar said ahead of the meeting.
There are also discussions currently underway with Trump about inviting Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to the White House, two sources told CNN.
It's not clear if those invitations have been extended yet, but Trump has expressed interest in doing so as he tries to insert himself into the vote certification process. The deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their totals is Monday.
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.
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
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 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
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 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.
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.
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
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.