Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:01 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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6:27 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

General Services Administration tells Biden that transition can formally begin

From CNN's Kristen Holmes and Jeremy Herb

President-elect Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with the United States Conference of Mayors in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday, November 23.
President-elect Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with the United States Conference of Mayors in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday, November 23. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The General Services Administration has informed President-elect Joe Biden that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process, according to a letter from administrator Emily Murphy sent Monday afternoon and obtained by CNN.

The letter is the first step the administration has taken to acknowledge President Donald Trump's defeat, more than two weeks after Biden was declared the winner in the election.

The letter signals that Murphy will formally sign off on Biden's victory, a normally perfunctory process known as ascertainment. The move will allow the transition to officially begin, permitting current administration agency officials to coordinate with the incoming Biden team, and providing millions in government funding for the transition.

President Trump later tweeted that while the legal case “STRONGLY continues,” he told Murphy to “do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols.”

Keep reading here.

 

5:11 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Georgia recount will begin Tuesday morning

From CNN’s Jason Morris, Amara Walker, and Tori Apodaca

Poll watchers monitor people hand counting 2020 presidential election ballots during an audit at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration Office in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on Friday, November 13.
Poll watchers monitor people hand counting 2020 presidential election ballots during an audit at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration Office in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on Friday, November 13. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

All of Georgia's 159 counties must begin their recount efforts at 9 a.m. Tuesday, said Gabriel Sterling, voter implementation manager with the Secretary of State’s office.

Counties must wrap up their recount by midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 2. 

“They have to begin tomorrow morning by 9 a.m.,” Sterling said during a new conference. “But beginning could also be if they are organizing and getting the people lined up because we want to make sure we have a lot of notice go out so we can have the monitors be there and adjudication teams, especially for the absentee votes first because those are the ones that are most likely to be needing adjudication."   

Ballots cannot be contested by party monitors on site during this process. There will be a minimum of two monitors per party at each location where the recount is occurring, according to Sterling. Larger counties that have more than two scanners will have an additional monitor for each party per each additional scanner.   

Sterling said that this count, under the code of Georgia, will be the final certified version of the election results.   

The Trump campaign requested the recount on Saturday, which is their right by Georgia law because the margin of Joe Biden’s victory is less than 0.5%. The recount will be taxpayer-funded, and will be conducted in each county statewide using high speed ballot scanners.    

President-elect Biden, who was declared the winner last Friday when the state certified the results, has a 12,670 vote or .2% lead over President Trump in Georgia.

4:47 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Michigan board certifies state election results

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Sarah Mucha

People vote in Detroit on Tuesday, November 3.
People vote in Detroit on Tuesday, November 3. Emily Elconin/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified results for the 2020 presidential election at a Monday meeting.

The state’s 16 electors will now go to the winner of the popular of the vote of the state, Joe Biden.

The next step is the Secretary of State sends the board’s certification to the governor for her signature.

“We appreciate the state board’s recognition of the plain facts: President-elect Joe Biden resoundingly won the state of Michigan by more than 150,000 votes — 14 times the margin of Donald Trump in 2016," a Biden spokesperson said.

“We thank the state of Michigan for its support, and look forward to receiving its 16 electoral votes,” said Michigan communications director Ben Halle. 

4:24 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Biden to pick former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during her last news conference in office on December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during her last news conference in office on December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will choose Janet Yellen, former chair of the federal reserve, as his Secretary of the Treasury, according to a source with knowledge of the pick.

Responding to CNN’s reporting about Biden’s pick for the role, Jen Psaki, a senior adviser for the transition team, said Biden looks "forward to announcing some members of his economic team early next week who will work with him to build the economy back better."

Yellen, who will be the first woman to hold the job should she be confirmed by the Senate, will be tasked to lead Biden's economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the economy and led millions of Americans to lose their jobs.

She will also be asked to make good on the former vice president's campaign promise to narrow the economic divide between rich and poor in the United States.

Yellen, after a long career in academia and different federal reserve roles, was nominated by President Barack Obama to become chair of the Federal Reserve — the first woman to hold the position — in a role she filled from 2014 to 2018.

President Trump opted not to renominate Yellen during his first year in office, instead nominating Jerome Powell to take the top job.

Biden had said that his pick to be Treasury secretary would attract broad support from different corners of the Democratic Party.

Read more here.

4:33 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

King of Jordan becomes first Arab leader to speak with Biden

From CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh, Caroline Faraj, and Khali Abdullah and Sarah Mucha

Jordan's King Abdullah II (center) arrives for the opening session of the fourth ordinary parliamentary session in Amman on November 10, 2019.
Jordan's King Abdullah II (center) arrives for the opening session of the fourth ordinary parliamentary session in Amman on November 10, 2019. Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images

Jordan’s King Abdullah spoke with President-elect Joe Biden on Monday to discuss bilateral relations and regional security, according to a readout of the conversation released by Jordan’s Royal Court. 

This marks the first call between an Arab leader and the President-elect.

“In the phone call, King Abdullah said he looks forward to working with President-elect Biden on advancing the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States, and expanding cooperation across various sectors, in service of mutual interests, and regional security and stability," the Royal Hashemite Court said.

"His Majesty reaffirmed the importance of continued coordination to counter joint challenges, including the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the readout continued.

“The King expressed his best wishes to President-elect Biden, wishing the American people continued progress and prosperity,” the readout concluded.

Here's a look at the other world leaders that have congratulated Biden.

3:48 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects Trump campaign effort to block counting certain absentee ballots

From CNN’s Kara Scannell

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected the Trump campaign’s effort to block the counting of certain absentee ballots clearing the way for those ballots to be counted in multiple counties, including Philadelphia.

“Here we conclude that while failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvanian voters,” wrote Justice Christine Donohue, who was joined in the opinion by two others in an ordered that was issued Monday afternoon. 

Two judges filed concurring and dissenting opinions, in which two other judges signed onto one of them.

3:46 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Biden speaks to bipartisan group of mayors about working together to combat Covid-19

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and others at The Queen theater on November 23, in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and others at The Queen theater on November 23, in Wilmington, Delaware. Carolyn Kaster/AP

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris on Monday spoke to a group of Democratic and Republican mayors about working together across all levels of government to deliver economic relief to communities and combat the coronavirus pandemic as cases surge in the country.

“All of you have been on the front lines from the very beginning, and as we head into this Thanksgiving in a very dark winter with cases and hospitalizations and deaths spiking, I want you to know that we���re here for you and we’re going to listen to you and work with you,” Biden said, speaking virtually to the United States Conference of Mayors in Wilmington, Delaware. 

“It’s the first priority we’re going to have once sworn in,” Biden said. 

The President-elect stressed the importance of working with Democrats and Republicans alike to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis. His message echoed the one he had delivered to a group of Republican and Democratic governors last week. 

“No matter which party … whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, there’s a strong sense of common purpose, a real desire for a real partnership between the states, cities and the federal government,” Biden said. “And there’s a strong consensus that we have to move forward in a coordinated way among the government on delivering the economic relief to cities, states and tribal communities sooner rather than later.” 

Biden spoke to the mayors about the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, universal masking, expanding testing and delivering economic relief to cities and states. 

“I know there are so many other issues that your cities are on the front lines of — racial justice, climate change, paid family leave, minimum wage, closing broadband gaps, ending homelessness,” Biden said.

But, Biden said, “the only way to beat these challenges, I believe, and so does Kamala, that we have to come together as a nation. You mayors get it.” 

Biden's comments come as President Trump continues to refuse to accept he lost the election and the current General Services Administration administrator, Emily Murphy, has yet to sign a letter to release funds to the Biden transition team through a process called ascertainment.

Without the GSA's signoff, Biden and his team are stuck in limbo, barred from access to federal agencies during the Covid-19 pandemic and classified intelligence briefings.

3:34 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

House Democrats demand immediate briefing from federal agency tasked with triggering formal transition

From CNN's Kristen Holmes, Lauren Fox and Jeremy Herb

The Democratic chairs of key House committees sent a letter to the administrator of the General Services Administration – the government agency tasked with declaring there is a president-elect and triggering the transition process – insisting they cannot wait another week for a briefing on the transition. 

The committees have been requesting a briefing because the agency’s administrator, Emily Murphy, has yet to acknowledge Biden's victory and sign a letter to release funds to the Biden transition team through a process called ascertainment.

"We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination," the Chairs wrote. 
"Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris Administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security," they added.

The letter is a response to an earlier GSA offer of a 30-minute briefing with their Deputy Administrator, Allison Brigati, on Monday Nov. 30. 

The Democratic chairs made it clear they were not willing to wait any longer, having made their initial request for a GSA briefing last week.

Their letter asks for a briefing tomorrow, offering multiple methods including Webex or a phone conference.

You can read the full letter here.

3:18 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Two Atlanta sports venues will be used for early voting in Georgia runoff election

From CNN's Dan Kamal

A view of the Mercedes Benz Stadium on April 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
A view of the Mercedes Benz Stadium on April 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Fulton County voters will be able to cast votes during the December early voting period for the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff election at both Mercedes Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

The announcement was made Monday by AMB Sports and Entertainment — parent company of the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United and Mercedes Benz Stadium — the Atlanta Hawks, and Fulton County. 

It will be the first time voters will have an opportunity to cast ballots at Mercedes Benz; more than 40,000 Fulton County voters cast ballots at State Farm Arena – home of the Atlanta Hawks - in the US Presidential Election.

More context: The state’s runoff election was mandated when none of the four remaining candidates in the races for US Senate was able to earn at least 50% of the vote earlier this month. 

Republican incumbent David Perdue is running in the January 5th election against Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler is running against Democrat Raphael Warnock.

The election could tip the balance of power in the US Senate, currently controlled by Republicans.