The latest on Biden's transition

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:07 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020
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7:48 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Trump asks Sen. Ted Cruz to argue Texas case if it reaches US Supreme Court

From CNN's Jim Acosta

Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz Alex Wong/Getty Images/FILE

President Trump personally asked Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to argue the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results in four battleground states before the Supreme Court, two sources told CNN.

Seventeen other Republican-led states have indicated their support for the lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to invalidate millions of votes cast in four states that went for Biden: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump sought to intervene in the case today.

“The President asked Sen. Cruz last night to argue the Texas case, and he told the President that if the Supreme Court took it up he would do so," a spokesperson for the Texas senator said.

A source familiar with the conversation said Trump has asked Cruz to argue a number of these election challenges. 

The New York Times first reported the conversation. 

6:13 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Biden will nominate Katherine Tai as US Trade Representative

From Dan Merica, Arlette Saenz and Jeff Zeleny

Katherine Tai speaks during a House Ways and Means Committee meeting to consider the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement in 2019.
Katherine Tai speaks during a House Ways and Means Committee meeting to consider the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement in 2019. C-Span/FILE

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Katherine Tai as US Trade Representative, three sources familiar with the decision confirmed to CNN.

Tai currently is the top Democratic trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee and oversaw trade enforcement for China during the Obama administration.

As an Asian-American, she is the latest diverse figure expected to be named to a Cabinet-level post in the incoming Biden administration. If confirmed, Tai would be the first woman of color to serve in the role.

7:08 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Trump asks Supreme Court to block electors from 4 battleground states 

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue

President Trump asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to block millions of votes from four battleground states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump's request came in a filing with the court asking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to invalidate millions of votes cast in four states that went for Biden: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The President is being represented by a new attorney, John Eastman, who is known for recently pushing a racist conspiracy theory that claimed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was not eligible for the role because her parents were immigrants.

Read Trump's court filing here.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has the latest. Watch below:

5:12 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Biden team will meet with Operation Warp Speed this week

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team will meet with Operation Warp Speed on Thursday and Friday, a transition official said. The official would not detail who would participate in these meetings from the Biden side.

The meetings come after the President-elect last week said he has not seen a “detailed plan” from the Trump administration about how a vaccine would be distributed to people.

Asked whether Biden would consider using the Defense Production Act to acquire vaccines if needed, a transition official punted saying, "We are continuing to work with the Operation Warp Speed team and our focus will be ensuring safe and effective vaccines are available to all Americans and around the world, and we'll likely have additional details to share in the coming weeks and months.”

3:53 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Michigan Supreme Court denies request from two individuals to block certification

From CNN's Jessica Schneider

The Michigan Supreme Court's Hall of Justice is seen in Lansing, Michigan.
The Michigan Supreme Court's Hall of Justice is seen in Lansing, Michigan. Carlos Osorio/AP/FILE

The Michigan Supreme Court has denied a request from two voters, one of whom is part of “Black Voices for Trump,” to stop the secretary of state or governor from declaring winners of the 2020 presidential election until a special master was appointed to review the legality of the absentee ballots and the election procedures at the TCF Center in Detroit.

“The gist of petitioners’ complaint is that they are unsatisfied with the recent decision of the Board of State Canvassers to declare a winner in the election for presidential electors in Michigan," Justice Elizabeth Clement writes in a concurring opinion.

"But this Court has no apparent jurisdiction to review this decision. As noted, the canvassing process is not the time to allege that an election was marred with fraud," Clement continues.

The two individuals went directly to the Michigan Supreme Court to seek relief and bypassed the lower courts in the state, to try to stop the slate of electors for Joe Biden, despite certification of Michigan’s vote in November.

Michigan law allows for direct petitions to the state’s Supreme Court for “any person who feels aggrieved by any determination made by the board of state canvassers.”

3:43 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Georgia's third largest county adds 2 additional early voting locations for last week of runoff voting

From CNN’s Jason Morris

Cobb County, Georgia’s third largest county which borders Atlanta, said they are making adjustments to their voting sites for the advanced voting period that begins next week following concerns about adequate voting locations for the Senate runoff election on Jan. 5.

County election officials said they are adding two additional voting locations during the third week of advanced voting, and moving one advanced voting site to a new location. They also said they will quickly start training poll managers to handle the additional locations.  

In a written statement, Cobb County Elections and Registration said they had opened an unprecedented number of advanced voting locations for the November election, but that staffing issues prevented them from opening a similar number of locations for the Jan. 5 runoff.   

“Between COVID, the workload, and the holidays, we have simply run out of people,” Janine Eveler, director of Cobb County Elections and Registration, said in a written statement.   

“Many workers told us they spent three weeks working 14- or 15-hour days and they will not do that again. We simply don’t have time to bring in and train up more workers to staff the number of locations we had for November,” Eveler said.  

Cobb officials said that because there are only two races on the ballot, they believe voters will spend significantly less time inside the polling locations.    

There are more than 537,000 registered voters in Cobb County, according to November’s general election results posted to Georgia’s Secretary of State’s website.  

Advanced voting for the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs begins statewide on Dec. 14.   

4:44 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Michelle Obama's voter engagement organization has registered 3,000 new voters for the runoffs in Georgia

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

When We All Vote, the nonpartisan voter engagement organization founded by former first lady Michelle Obama, has registered 3,000 new voters specifically for the Georgia Senate runoff elections, the organization told CNN Wednesday. The crucial election will decide which party controls the Senate.

When We All Vote was started by Obama in 2018 with the goal of closing the age and race gap in voter participation. Ahead of Election Day, more than 18,000 Georgia voters registered to vote with When We All Vote.  

The organization has "My School Votes" programs in high schools across the metro Atlanta area, including in Atlanta and DeKalb and Clayton Counties.

When We All Vote has convened more than 100 Georgia student ambassadors, and more than 800 people are part of a My School Votes team in Georgia, Stephanie Young, chief officer of culture and communications at When We All Vote, told CNN.

 “We empower young people to ensure their communities are registered and ready to vote, and the work continues to grow,” Young said.

According to Young, 86% of Atlanta Public Schools have a My School Votes team, and the program is expanding in Dooly, Dougherty, Worth and Macon counties.

More than 1,000 young people attended “Drop Everything and Register” events with My School Votes in Clayton County, Atlanta, and DeKalb County Public Schools. Young people in Georgia have sent more than 10,000 social media direct messages to Georgia voters encouraging them to register and vote in the runoffs using When We All Vote’s Georgia voter hub.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated that the My School Votes “Drop Everything and Register” event was held in Clark County. The event was held in Clayton County.

2:59 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

Biden's defense secretary nominee will begin meeting with lawmakers early next week

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden’s defense secretary nominee, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, will begin meeting with lawmakers early next week as his confirmation process kicks off, a source familiar with the plans says.

The conversations are expected to be conducted virtually. 

This comes as Austin will first need to obtain a waiver to serve since he retired from the military only four years ago – a move some Democrats have already expressed hesitancy about.

2:36 p.m. ET, December 9, 2020

American Farm Bureau president applauds Biden’s pick for secretary of agriculture

From CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich

Tom Vilsack speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing in Washington, DC, in 2019.
Tom Vilsack speaks during a Senate Finance Committee hearing in Washington, DC, in 2019. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The president of the American Farm Bureau applauded the news that President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to serve as the next secretary of agriculture. 

In a statement on Wednesday, AFB President Zippy Duvall called the news “welcome,” noting Vilsack’s “reputation for rising above partisanship to serve farmers and ranchers.” 

Duvall says the two built a good relationship during Vilsack’s time as secretary of agriculture under President Obama.  

“Tom Vilsack understands that the agriculture sector is far more complex than most people understand. He believes in a ‘big tent’ philosophy that supports all types of production and understands the importance of respecting farmers and ranchers as partners worthy of support in the race to achieve sustainability goals,” Duvall said. 

Duvall said the two have been working together recently through Vilsack’s role as the president and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council – especially relating to the pandemic and its impact on farmers and ranchers. 

“The pandemic revealed both the strengths and weaknesses of our food system, which Tom has had a front row seat to witness. Together, we must prepare to tackle a new farm bill and build on efforts to create a fair marketplace for US agriculture to compete globally” he said.