Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 10:13 PM ET, Mon November 9, 2020
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7:12 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

President-elect Biden is not receiving national security briefings yet, intel office says

From CNN's Alex Marquardt and Zachary Cohen

 Office of Director of National Intelligence
Office of Director of National Intelligence

One of the first rights of a presidential candidate after winning the election is access to the same highly-classified intelligence briefings about pressing national security issues that their soon-to-be predecessor has been offered daily.

But with the election not yet ascertained by the General Services Administration (GSA), President-elect Joe Biden and his senior advisers are not yet receiving the Presidential Daily Brief, as it’s known. 

"ODNI follows the statutory direction provided in the Presidential Transition Act, which requires ascertainment of the candidate by the administrator of GSA prior to supporting a potential presidential transition,” the Office of Director of National Intelligence said in a Monday evening statement. “ODNI would not have contact with any transition team until notified by the GSA Administrator.” 

The statement is a clear indication that the Biden transition team is not getting the same briefings that president-elects typically receive. What remains unclear, however, is whether in fact the race needs to be ascertained before the President-elect can legally receive the briefings. 

What this means: “Ascertainment” is granted by the administrator of the General Services Administration and until she signs a letter, presidential-level intelligence briefings are one of the key components of the transition on hold.

“Past practice was that the president-elect would receive the PDB daily,” said the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who briefed Trump after he won. “It was, as I recall, identical to what the President received.” 

Once Biden became the Democratic nominee, he was granted expanded intelligence briefings and his campaign was offered more specific briefings on threats to the election, both by the Office of Director of National Intelligence.

“It should change when you have a president-elect because it’s not theoretical anymore. You need to be ready for North Korea issue ‘A’ or Iran issue ‘B,’” said Robert Cardillo, a former PDB briefer to President Barack Obama.

But giving more access to Biden and his top advisers “would imply that you’re accepting the results,” according to Cardillo, whose name has been mentioned for a potential senior intelligence position in the Biden administration. “To me it would be highly, highly unlikely. No one would want to face the wrath of the current president.”

Transition put the fiercely apolitical intelligence community in an awkward position, says Clapper, who has been highly critical of Trump.

“The IC has to serve, essentially, two Presidents at the same time,” Clapper said. “I know [during the Obama-Trump transition] we discussed whether any particularly sensitive articles should be excluded from the President-elect’s version, but don’t believe we actually did so.”

6:47 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Trump adviser: The President is beginning to see "path to losing"

From CNN's Jim Acosta

President Trump is beginning to come to grips with the reality that he will lose the election, a Trump adviser said based on conversations inside the campaign and with the President. 

Trump sees a “path to losing,” the adviser said. 

He has already begun to discuss with aides the prospect of running in 2024, as CNN reported last week.

6:47 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Trump campaign files lawsuit attempting to block results of Pennsylvania election

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

Luzerne County workers canvas ballots as vote counting in the general election continued on Friday, November 6 , in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Luzerne County workers canvas ballots as vote counting in the general election continued on Friday, November 6 , in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Mary Altaffer/AP/FILE

The Trump campaign is attempting to block the Pennsylvania Secretary of State from certifying Joe Biden's win and the 20 electoral votes he is set to obtain there, according to a new federal lawsuit they've filed in the state that attacks absentee voting as illegal. 

State and federal courts had already confirmed absentee voting as a legitimate voting method before the election – though this exact request hasn't been before a federal judge in the state before. 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the Trump campaign’s latest lawsuit “meritless” and said he is confident “Pennsylvania law will be upheld and the will of the people of the Commonwealth will be respected in this election.”

Experts say the newest Trump case is very unlikely to succeed, especially because it seeks to invalidate millions of votes cast in good faith in Pennsylvania.

Steve Vladeck, a CNN legal expert, called the suit a "Hail Mary," adding "our entire system would be unlawful if they're right."

Another CNN legal expert, Ben Ginsberg, echoed called the effort to block the votes an act of "desperation."

"This is the sort of desperation, throw the kitchen sink at the wall and see what sticks strategy. They're asking the courts to disenfranchise all the Pennsylvania voters because of mistakes officials made, and courts frown about that," Ginsberg said. "This appears to be an attempt to bollox up the certification of results so there's no winner declared, and that lets the Pennsylvania legislature name the slate of electors."

6:40 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse congratulates Biden

From CNN's Ted Barrett

 Hilary Swift/Pool/Getty Images/FILE
 Hilary Swift/Pool/Getty Images/FILE

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has offered his congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a statement to the Omaha World-Herald.

“Melissa and I congratulate the next president, Joe Biden, and the next vice president, Kamala Harris,” the Nebraska lawmaker said in a statement to the paper. “Today in our house we pray for both President Trump and President-Elect Biden, that both would be wise in the execution of their respective duties during this important time in our nation.”

The statement to the paper also said: “Despite the policy differences many of us will have with the incoming administration, every American’s civic responsibilities are the same: root for every president’s success, work together where we can, and debate passionately and respectfully.”

More on this: Sasse is the fourth Republican senator to acknowledge the President-elect's victory. Maine Sen. Susan Collins issued a statement earlier today and offered congratulations to Biden and Harris. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney has vocally congratulated the Biden-Harris ticket, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski also released a statement this weekend congratulating them. 

6:00 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Fauci says his goal is to serve the American people and he has "no intention of leaving"


When asked if he would stay in government after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated in January, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has "no intention of leaving."

"This is an important job. I've been doing it now for a very long time. I've been doing it under six presidents. It's an important job and my goal is to serve the American public no matter what the administration is," he told CNN on Monday.

He said the last time he talked to President Trump was when he was in Walter Reed Medical Center being treated for Covid-19.

He did not comment on whether he has talked to Biden, saying "I would prefer not to talk about any of that."

"I want to focus on what I'm doing now with regard to getting a vaccine and getting this country well in the sense of towards normality, which I think we are able to get this with this vaccine. That's really what I want to talk about," he said.

Some background: Drugmaker Pfizer announced today that an early look at data from its coronavirus vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective – something Fauci says is very good news, calling it "extraordinary."

"This is something that we should really feel good about, but I want to make sure people understand that it's good because we know there is light at the end of the tunnel but that doesn't mean that we are going to give up the important public health measures that we continually still have to do every single day," he said.

5:34 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Esper responds to Trump in letter, saying "I accept your decision to replace me"

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper responded to President Trump’s decision to fire him in a letter dated Monday, which said “I serve the country in deference to the Constitution, so I accept your decision to replace me.”

“I step aside knowing there is much we achieved at the Defense Department over the last eighteen months to protect the nation and improve the readiness, capabilities, and professionalism of the joint force, while fundamentally transforming and preparing the military for the future,” Esper said in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by CNN.

The tone of the letter is largely diplomatic and includes a list of accomplishments that Esper says occurred during his tenure, avoiding any major criticism of Trump or his policies, a departure from the resignation letter submitted by Esper’s predecessor James Mattis.

5:26 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Nevada registrar disputes GOP voter fraud claims: "We have answers for everything"

From CNN’s Stephanie Becker

Joe Gloria, the Clark County registrar of voters
Joe Gloria, the Clark County registrar of voters KTNV

The registrar of voters in Nevada’s most populous county disputed claims made by the Nevada GOP of rampant voter fraud in the election, saying “we have answers for everything that have been brought forward.” 

Joe Gloria, the Clark County registrar of voters, told reporters at a news conference Monday he had submitted all of the allegations made by the GOP to the Secretary of State’s office to be investigated.

"There are too many of them at this point for me to address them all,” he said, when asked for details. 

The Secretary of State’s office, headed by Republican Barbara Cegavske, has refused to comment on any ongoing investigations. But the state's attorney general, Aaron Ford, a Democrat, tweeted Monday that “Nevada does not have widespread voter fraud.”

President-elect Joe Biden continues to maintain his lead over President Trump in Nevada by 36,186 votes.

In Clark County, home to Las Vegas and about 70% of all active registered voters in the state, the “bulk” of all mail-in ballots have now been counted, Gloria said. Tuesday is the last day mail-in ballots can be received and counted. 

About 60,000 provisional ballots are still being processed and won’t be counted until at least Thursday, Gloria said.

In past years, officials typically received a few thousand provisional ballots, but this year with a mostly mail-in election, the number has skyrocketed. The county needs to wait for approval from the Secretary of State’s office to start counting those ballots, after making sure those voters didn’t vote in another county.

4:26 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Schumer invites Biden's Covid-19 advisory board co-chair to brief Senate Democrats tomorrow

From CNN's Manu Raju

Dr. Vivek Murthy posing for a portrait in 2018.
Dr. Vivek Murthy posing for a portrait in 2018. Lane Turner/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has invited the newly named co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden's Covid-19 advisory board to address Senate Democrats Tuesday, a senior Democratic aide tells CNN.

“Per an invite from Leader Schumer, Dr. Vivek Murthy, co-Chair of President Elect Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, will brief Senate Democrats at their caucus lunch tomorrow (via phone),” the aide said. 


5:19 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Join CNN Citizen tomorrow for a conversation about the election results


Tomorrow, CNN Citizen will present "What Next, America?" a conversation about the 2020 election results and what they mean for the road ahead.

It will feature CNN's Dana Bash, David Chalian, John King and Abby Phillip.

You can reserve your spot here. It begins at 10 a.m. ET.