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Supreme Court rejects Trump's bid to overturn election
02:09

What you need to know

  • The Supreme Court rejected a bid from Texas’ attorney general to block the ballots of millions of voters in battleground states that went in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.
  • All 50 states and DC have certified their presidential election results and the Electoral College process moves forward Monday with the meeting of electors.
  • Meanwhile, Biden continues to build out his incoming team. He introduced a slate of key administration picks today, including veterans affairs secretary.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about the Biden transition here.

13 Posts

Biden spokesperson not surprised by Supreme Court decision on Texas lawsuit

A spokesperson for President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign said today’s Supreme Court decision to reject a bid to block the ballots of millions of voters in battleground states was “no surprise.” 

“The Supreme Court has decisively and speedily rejected the latest of Donald Trump and his allies’ attacks on the democratic process,” campaign spokesperson Mike Gwin said.

He added: “This is no surprise — dozens of judges, election officials from both parties, and Trump’s own Attorney General have dismissed his baseless attempts to deny that he lost the election. President-elect Biden’s clear and commanding victory will be ratified by the Electoral College on Monday, and he will be sworn in on January 20th.”

Some background: The court’s move to dismiss the challenge is the strongest indication yet that President Trump has no chance of overturning election results in court that even the justices whom he placed there have no interest in allowing his desperate legal bids to continue.

The lawsuit, brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch Trump ally, sought to sue Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin — which all went for Biden — and invalidate their election results. And this week, with his options narrowing, Trump, accompanied by the support of several Republican attorneys general and GOP lawmakers, cranked up pressure to have the Supreme Court weigh in.

Supreme Court rejects lawsuit from Texas and Trump to overturn the election

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather outside of the US Supreme Court on Friday, December 11.

The Supreme Court acted with unusual speed to reject a bid from Texas’ attorney general— supported by President Trump — to block the ballots of millions of voters in battleground states that went in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

The court’s move to dismiss the challenge is the strongest indication yet, that Trump has no chance of overturning election results in court that even the justices who he placed on the Supreme Court have no interest in allowing his desperate legal bids to continue.

The court did not provide a vote count but there were no dissents to the order. Justice Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas would have allowed the case to be filed with the court, but emphasized they would grant no other relief.

“All of the justices end up in the same place, which is that Texas’ lawsuit cannot go forward. The only disagreement is as to why. Justice Alito and Thomas would have granted Texas permission to bring the suit but gone no further; the rest of the court declined to even go that far,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas Law professor.  

“The separate statement from Justices Alito and Thomas is reiterating a longstanding objection that they both have to how the court handles lawsuits between states, and is not specific to this dispute,” he said.

Vladeck said the court’s unsigned order is “the closest possible thing to the last nail in the coffin for election-related legal challenges.”

“Not only did the Court reject Texas’s effort to challenge the results in four battleground states, but it did so on a ground that will prevent any other states from doing so. And even Justice Thomas and Alito, who might otherwise have been sympathetic to these challenges, went out of their way to express that they would grant no relief on the merits,” he said. “From a legal perspective, the fat lady has sung.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro reacted on Twitter to the Supreme Court decision saying, “Texas vs. Pennsylvania has been DENIED by the Supreme Court.”

“Our nation’s highest court saw through this seditious abuse of our electoral process. This swift denial should make anyone contemplating further attacks on our election think twice,” he tweeted.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer today’s decision is “great news for democracy and for the rule of law.”

“None of the justices who the President appointed to the Supreme Court noted a dissent, and he had made a big show of the fact that he said he needed to have justices on the Supreme Court for the election, but that’s not how the rule of law works. Justices decide based on the facts and the law and not based on the parties in the case,” he said. “Today’s decision vindicates that principle.”

Watch CNN’s Jessica Schneider report:

01:18

Biden’s Covid-19 equity task force chair says Covid-19 exposed a "crisis of discrimination" in health care 

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who has been selected to serve as the chair of President-elect Biden's Covid-19 equity task force, is displayed via video during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, on Tuesday, December 8.

Hospitals and health care facilities across the United States are a clear reflection of the social inequities and the country must not remain complacent, said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s Covid-19 equity task force. 

“Health care free of racism and discrimination is a right and not a privilege,” Nunez-Smith said Friday in a web briefing hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Satcher Health Leadership Institute. “It is our societal obligation to ensure equitable access to high-quality health care during the pandemic and beyond.” 

Earlier this week, Nunez-Smith was introduced as a key member of Biden’s health team. She had previously been appointed as a co-chair of the Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board with former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. 

“We realized, we must really not become comfortable with the fact that over 70% of African Americans and 60% of Latinx Americans personally know someone who has been hospitalized, or died from Covid-19,” she said. 

As health care experts in the US look into 2021, Nunez-Smith says, one of the nation’s priorities should be to collect high-quality data on race and ethnicity and commit to increasing the number of health care workers of color and those in leadership positions.

Michigan's Supreme Court denies Trump campaign's request to appeal

The Michigan Supreme Court's Hall of Justice in Lansing, Michigan on January 17.

Michigan’s Supreme Court on Friday denied efforts by the Trump campaign to appeal a lawsuit that was slapped down by two lower state courts.

The state’s Court of Appeals had previously said the case was “moot” since the vote has already been certified. The Trump campaign’s lawsuit initially asked to halt the counting of absentee ballots.  

This was the case where the lower court judge dismissed the affidavits filed in support as hearsay.

Biden introduces more Cabinet nominees and top administration roles

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, arrives to introduce nominees to his incoming administration on December 11, in Wilmington, Delaware.

President-elect Joe Biden introduced several Cabinet nominees and other top administration picks on Friday at an event in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Some are familiar faces. Some are new in their roles. All are facing new circumstances and challenges. That’s a good thing,” Biden said at the event. “They bring deep experience and bold new thinking. Above all, they know how government should and can work for all Americans.”

Biden this week announced Denis McDonough, President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, as his pick for secretary of Veterans Affairs; Tom Vilsack, a former agriculture secretary, as his nominee for agriculture secretary; and Marcia Fudge, an Ohio congresswoman, as his pick for secretary of housing and urban development.

The President-elect also named Susan Rice, former national security adviser during the Obama administration, as his director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and Katherine Tai, who oversaw trade enforcement for China during the Obama administration, as his nominee for United States Trade Representative.

More context: The President-elect’s picks were officially announced on Thursday by his transition team. McDonough, Vilsack, Fudge and Tai will all require Senate confirmation to serve in their roles. Rice will not.

McDonough served as chief of staff during Obama’s entire second term and also worked as deputy national security adviser. He developed a close relationship with Biden while serving in both positions. He also chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, which is responsible for formulating the administration’s national security and foreign policy.

Vilsack served as agriculture secretary for the entirety of Obama’s time in the White House. He was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate in January 2009. Vilsack is also the former governor of Iowa, and served from 1999 to 2007. He was the first Democrat elected governor of the state in more than 30 years.

Biden nominates Tom Vilsack for secretary of Agriculture

Tom Vilsack speaks at a campaign stop for President-elect Joe Biden at the LOFT on Jefferson, in Burlington, Iowa on January 31.

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Tom Vilsack as secretary of Agriculture, a position he once held before.

“For secretary of agriculture, I nominate Tom Vilsack, an outstanding two-term governor of Iowa,” Biden said during a news conference this afternoon. “The best secretary of agriculture I believe this country has ever had. He was there when the great recession was pummelling through America. Over eight years, he saw a record-breaking investment to bring us back. He implemented the recovery act to help rural communities recover and rebuild. Tom helped expand markets around the world for American farmers. He improved our food safety standards. He helped millions of children and families receive healthy meals.”

Watch President-elect Joe Biden make the announcement:

02:23

Some Republican senators slam Texas lawsuit after more than 100 House GOP members sign on

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is seen in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, December 2.

Several Republican senators on Friday weighed in on a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the results of the election.

More than 100 House GOP members signed on to an amicus brief backing Texas. The signatories include several lawmakers from the four states from which Trump and Texas are trying to throw out millions of votes: four from Georgia, four from Michigan, seven from Pennsylvania and one from Wisconsin.

Moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was disappointed by the Texas lawsuit to overturn the election.

“I am really surprised and disappointed that 43 days before everything is to be certified that there would be an effort by members, effort by states that are not even impacted in the sense of the challenges,” she said. 

She added she would be surprised if she got a petition sent to her office.

“I don’t think they would send one to my office. I would certainly hope not. Because that meant they haven’t seen my statements which I have clearly said President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are going to be beginning a new administration in January,” she said.

Asked about his House GOP colleagues joining the amicus brief, including Rep. Steve Scalise, Sen. John Cornyn asked, “Did they read it?” before laughing.

“I’m for people seeking recourse,” he said, adding that he looks forward to seeing the Supreme Court decision when it happens.

When asked if he’s aligning himself legally with the lawsuit, close Trump ally Sen. Mike Braun responded, “I just haven’t made my mind up yet.”

“You know I’ve all along said that I want the process to play out and I’m just watching it, observing, not sure what’s going to happen, I’m anxious to see if the Supreme Court is going to hear it, I think they should,” he said.

When asked about the Texas lawsuit, retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander said, “I’m never surprised by the House of Representatives” and laughed. 

And Sen. Joni Ernst dodged questions on if she’s supportive. “I think it’s important all vote be counted,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Steve Daines told CNN he was supportive of the lawsuit.

“Montana has joined it and I’m glad to see why,” Daines said, adding he supports it. “I have great confidence in the United State Supreme Court … and we’ll wait to see what the Court rules.”

Biden and Harris were named Time Person of the Year. Here's how the President-elect is reacting.

President-elect Joe Biden said he’s honored to be named Time magazine’s Person of the Year alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. He tweeted that he’s “grateful” to be on a list with “so many extraordinary folks.”

Earlier today, Time magazine announced it had named Biden and Harris 2020’s Person of the Year.

The two made history on November 7 when they beat Trump in a bitter election that put him in a small club of presidents who served only one term. Harris on that day became the country’s first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.

Meanwhile, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was named Businessperson of the Year. The video chat service spiked in popularity amid a health crisis that forced people to work and learn from home.

In the category of Guardians of the Year, Time named activists Assa Traoré, Porche Bennett-Bey and racial-justice organizers; frontline health workers fighting the pandemic; and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Texas files response to Supreme Court, meaning the justices may rule at any time

The Supreme Court building is seen on December 7.

Texas on Friday filed its reply to the Supreme Court, defending its lawsuit against the four states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden. 

The move now means that the Justices can act on the lawsuit at any time.

Some background on this lawsuit: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit Tuesday. The President on Wednesday filed a motion to intervene — basically a request to join the lawsuit, asking for the same result. Seventeen GOP states are backing the effort as well.

The Republicans want, essentially, to swing the election to Trump. They’re asking for the court to block the electors from Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, pushing Biden back under the magic 270-vote total to win.

In tweet calling on SCOTUS to overturn election, Trump appears to acknowledge his loss 

President Donald Trump is pictured in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 7.

President Trump has already had a busy morning on Twitter, going after two of his appointees, and is now attempting to claim that the Supreme Court should intervene in the presidential election because, as he says, “the Biden Administration will be a scandal plagued mess.”

There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the Biden campaign or transition. President-elect Biden’s son, Hunter — who is not a part of his father’s administration — is being investigated for his own business dealings. Joe Biden is not implicated.

Trump also appears to acknowledge his election loss in the tweet referring to the “Biden administration” in a future tense.

Trump wrote:

Key things to know about the Supreme Court lawsuit from Texas and Trump challenging Biden's win

The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on December 7.

Although all 50 states have certified their election results and although the Supreme Court swiftly rejected an emergency request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block election results in the commonwealth, the justices are now grappling with a new controversial bid from Texas, supported by President Trump and 17 other Republican-led states.

They are asking the Supreme Court for an emergency order to invalidate the ballots of millions of voters in four battleground states — Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

Critics of the President and his allies say the case reflects an audacious and legally dubious gambit to keep the lawsuits flowing in order to prolong baseless claims that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was somehow illegitimate.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Who is suing? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit Tuesday. The President on Wednesday filed a motion to intervene — basically a request to join the lawsuit, asking for the same result. Seventeen GOP states are backing the effort as well.
  • What do the Republicans want? Essentially, to swing the election to Trump. They’re asking for the court to block the electors from Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, pushing Biden back under the magic 270-vote total to win. First the court would have to allow Paxton to file the suit. Then the court would have to block certification of the Electoral College vote, determine that the four states had allowed massive amounts of “illegal” votes, have the states revisit their vote counts and then resubmit the numbers. The court could also, Trump’s filing suggests, let state legislatures determine who wins each state or throw the entire election to the US House of Representatives, where each state delegation would have one vote – and since Republican delegations outnumber Democratic delegations, Trump would win.
  • Is there any precedent? No. “In a nutshell the President is asking the Supreme Court to exercise its rarest form of jurisdiction to effectively overturn the entire presidential election,” said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas Law School professor.
  • The Supreme Court has 6 conservatives. Does that guarantee Trump will win? No. The court has thus far shown no desire to intervene in the presidential election. On Tuesday, it rejected the plea from Pennsylvania Republicans to invalidate the state’s presidential tallies. It issued one sentence and noted zero dissents. (Justices don’t always have to make their votes public.) Trump has suggested publicly that he hopes his nominees – Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch – will side with him on any election dispute. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are also ones to watch. No justice is required to recuse him or herself from the dispute; Barrett, notably, did not recuse herself in the Pennsylvania lawsuit.

Read more here.

These are Biden's top contenders for attorney general

From left: Sen. Doug Jones, Judge Merrick Garland and Sally Yates

The role of attorney general remains the biggest outstanding position in the Cabinet yet to be named by President-elect Joe Biden.

Three leading contenders for the post are: Sen. Doug Jones, Judge Merrick Garland and Sally Yates, people familiar with the matter say, after Jeh Johnson informed allies late Tuesday he would not be serving in the Biden administration.

Here are key things to know about the possible contenders:

  • Jones: The Alabama senator who lost his race in November, is seen as the leading candidate to run the Department of Justice, people close to the matter say, particularly given his long-standing friendship with Biden and his strong civil rights record. He also fits a pattern developing among several key Cabinet nominees: Biden is turning to people with whom he has strong relationships, are seen as competent and could face an easier road to confirmation.”All signs point to Doug Jones,” a person close to the Biden transition tells CNN, but noted that Biden had not informed candidates of his final decision.
  • Garland: The judge has also been under consideration for weeks. Some people close to the process say his candidacy has become more serious over the last week and he remains an option. Yet his nomination also faces more challenges than Jones, including a more complicated confirmation battle, the vacancy it would create on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and questions from civil rights groups. Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the final year of the Obama administration
  • Yates: A former deputy attorney general, would also likely face a more difficult confirmation than Jones. As a 30-year career official at Justice, it’s also an open question whether she is best suited to lead the department in the post-Trump era. During her time as deputy attorney general, she stood by while then-FBI Director James Comey, who reported directly to her, repeatedly violated Justice Department policy in handling the Hillary Clinton email probe.

CNN has previously reported that Lisa Monaco, a former Homeland Security adviser in the Obama White House who worked closely with Biden on his vice presidential search, is also under consideration for the attorney general post. Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor and former civil rights chief at the Justice Department, was also being considered.

A Biden transition official said a decision had not yet been made and a formal announcement is not expected this week.

Read more here.

Electors will formally cast votes on Monday. Here are key dates to watch until Biden's inauguration.

Americans who went to the polls on Election Day didn’t actually select the President directly.

They were technically voting for 538 electors who, according to the system laid out by the Constitution, meet in their respective states and vote for president and vice president once the popular vote totals are completely counted and certified. The electors are set to meet Monday to cast their votes for US president.

These electors are collectively referred to as the Electoral College, and their votes are then forwarded to the president of the Senate, who counts them in a joint session of Congress after the new year. 

Here’s a look at some key dates from now until Inauguration Day:

Monday

  • Electoral votes cast: In law, this date is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year it falls on Dec. 14. Six days after disputes are supposed to be settled, electors are supposed to meet in their respective states and cast votes for US president. They certify six sets of votes and send them to Washington. Many states have laws requiring their electors to support the winner of their state’s election and can levy fines against faithless electors who go their own way.

Dec. 23

  • Electoral votes must arrive in Washington: The certified electoral votes have nine days to get from their states to Capitol Hill.

Jan. 3

  • New Congress is sworn in: Members of the House and new members of the Senate take the oath of office at noon. This is the official start of the 117th Congress.

Jan. 6

  • Electoral votes counted: Members of the House and the Senate all meet in the House chamber. The president of the Senate (that’s Vice President Mike Pence) presides over the session and the Electoral votes are read and counted in alphabetical order by two appointees each from the House and Senate. They then give their tallies to Pence, who announces the results and listens for objections. If there are objections or if there are, somehow, multiple slates of electors put forward by a state, the House and Senate consider them separately to decide how to count those votes.There are 538 electoral votes — one for each congressman and senator plus three for Washington, DC. If no candidate gets 270, the 435 members of the House decide the election. Each state gets a vote. The House has until noon on Jan. 20 to pick the President. If they can’t, it would be the vice president or the next person eligible in the line of presidential succession.

Jan. 20

  • Inauguration Day: A new president takes the oath of office at noon. In a disputed election, if the House has not chosen a President but the Senate has chosen a vice president, the vice president-elect becomes acting president until the House makes a choice. And if there’s no president-elect and no vice president-elect, the House appoints a president until one is chosen.

READ MORE

Biden announces slate of new Cabinet and top administration picks