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

Join CNN Citizen tomorrow for a conversation about the election results

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CNN

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.

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

White House Covid-19 task force coordinator Deborah Birx has not been approached by Biden team

From CNN's Kate Bennett

Dr. Deborah Birx looks on after giving a network interview at the White House in Washington, DC on September 30.
Dr. Deborah Birx looks on after giving a network interview at the White House in Washington, DC on September 30. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Deborah Birx has privately told colleagues she has not yet been contacted by anyone on President-elect Biden’s team, and whether she will be staying on as a government employee in the fight against the pandemic remains up in the air.

While not publicly commenting on what her future plans could entail, Birx has privately expressed interest in keeping her current role as coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, or a similar position within a Biden-led government.

On Monday morning, Biden announced members of his new coronavirus task force and outlined his plans to combat the virus as case counts continue to balloon across the United States. 

Despite the challenges of a foreboding winter season, and a what promises to be a complicated presidential transition, Birx has indicated to friends she has no desire to give up her career as a public servant and enter the corporate world, which could certainly be an option for someone in her position. Birx has been a government employee since 1980 when she joined the Army, shortly after receiving her medical degree, and is now one of the country’s top immunologists.

A major caveat that could prevent the Biden team from reaching out to Birx thus far involves the new administration having to get permission from the current administration if it wishes to employ or officially approach anyone in the Executive Branch or any federal post.

Biden cannot technically move to form a government using current government employees until his January inauguration, unless permission from Trump is granted to do so. Trump has not conceded to Biden or publicly accepted his loss. The President continues to baselessly contest the results of the election. 

CNN reached to the White House for comment and no response thus far.

Some background: In recent months, Birx has not been at the White House as much as she was in the early days of the pandemic, choosing instead to travel the country and speak about coronavirus prevention best practices on a state and local level.

The desire to hit the road was spurred by intense clashes with Dr. Scott Atlas, the doctor Trump has most recently relied on to receive his coronavirus information, much of it not supported by scientific evidence. Birx vowed in August to never again be in a face-to-face meeting with Atlas, whose medical opinions about Covid-19 she vehemently opposes.

Though her visual presence beside Trump at news briefings has diminished – along with the briefings themselves – one person who has known Birx for more than a decade says her association with the current administration could be too strong for the new one to keep her on, despite her desire to remain.

The source reminds, however, if anyone could make a tricky transition it’s Birx, who moved from senior positions in George W. Bush’s administration to Barack Obama’s administration and then to Trump’s.

3:58 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

McConnell: Trump is "100% within his rights" to weigh his legal options

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on the senate floor in Washington, DC, on November 9.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on the senate floor in Washington, DC, on November 9. Senate TV

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump, who still hasn't publicly accepted he lost the election, is "100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options."

"In the United States of America, all legal ballots must be counted. Any illegal ballots must not be counted. The process should be transparent — or observable — by all sides, and the courts are here to work through concerns," McConnell said while speaking on the Senate floor.

He continued:

"Our institutions are actually built for this. We have the system in place to consider concerns, and President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options."

Remember: In the days after Election Day, before CNN projected Joe Biden would win the election, Trump and his allies bombard Americans with false claims about the presidential election, baselessly asserting that Democrats were attempting to steal the election from Trump. You can read CNN's full fact check on some of those claims here.

Watch the moment:

3:02 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Trump adviser tapped to oversee campaign legal challenges contracts coronavirus, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kate Bennett

Citizens United President David Bossie speaks during an Arizona Republican Party news conference on November 5 in Phoenix.
Citizens United President David Bossie speaks during an Arizona Republican Party news conference on November 5 in Phoenix. Matt York/AP

Trump adviser David Bossie has tested positive for coronavirus only days after he was tapped to oversee the Trump campaign's legal challenges contesting the outcome of the election, two sources confirm to CNN. 

Bossie did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has been in the campaign headquarters in Virginia several times in the last week and has also traveled extensively.

Bloomberg News first reported the diagnosis. 

2:54 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Georgia election official: "When the margins are this tight, everything matters"

From CNN’s Tina Burnside

Georgia's Voting Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling, right, speaks during a press conference in Atlanta on November 9.
Georgia's Voting Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling, right, speaks during a press conference in Atlanta on November 9. CNN

Georgia's Voting Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling said during a news conference Monday that he recognizes that every election is imperfect but reassured the public that the system counted every ballot properly and there will be an audit to prove it. 

Sterling said he knows they are going to find people that illegally voted, double voted or didn't have the qualifications to register to vote in the state of Georgia.

However, Sterling said it is unlikely they will find 10,353 ballots that fall under these categories. 

President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated President Trump for the presidency after a win in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, is leading in the Georgia presidential race by more than 10,000 votes though CNN has not projected a winner in the state. 

Sterling said they anticipate a recount request from Trump. 

 

2:04 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Susan Collins becomes the third Republican senator to acknowledge Biden's victory

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Republican Sen. Susan Collins speaks on November 4 in Bangor, Maine.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins speaks on November 4 in Bangor, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, congratulated President-elect Joe Biden in a new statement released Monday, and urged patience as the election process plays out.

"I would offer my congratulations to President-elect Biden on his apparent victory – he loves this country, and I wish him every success. Presidential transitions are important, and the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern on January 20th," Collins said in a statement.

More context: She is the third Republican senator to acknowledge the President-elect's victory. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney has vocally congratulated the Biden-Harris ticket, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski also released a statement this weekend congratulating them. 

1:59 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau says he spoke with Biden today

From CNN’s Arlette Saenz

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily coronavirus briefing at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario, on June 25.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily coronavirus briefing at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario, on June 25. Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a photo Monday and said he had congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden on his election win. 

“I just spoke with @JoeBiden, and congratulated him again on his election. We’ve worked with each other before, and we’re ready to pick up on that work and tackle the challenges and opportunities facing our two countries - including climate change and COVID-19," Trudeau tweeted. 

"We talked about those specific challenges today, as well as trade, energy, NATO, anti-Black racism, and China’s arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. On these and other issues, President-elect @JoeBiden and I agreed to keep in touch and work closely together," the prime minister continued in a following tweet.

See his tweet:

1:34 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Arizona governor says there are 75,000 to 80,000 votes left to count

From CNN’s Konstantin Toropin

Arizona still has between 75,000 and 80,000 ballots left to count, Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement today.

“Our expectation is that we finish counting,” the Republican governor said.

“Making it easy to vote and hard to cheat has also resulted in time consuming efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections,” Ducey said.

The governor did not say when the vote count would be completed.

Ducey also noted that “the President, just like any other candidate, has the right to all available legal challenges and remedies, and we are confident they will be properly adjudicated.”

 

1:55 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Firing of Esper to some large extent throws the system into turmoil

On-air analysis from CNN's Barbara Starr / Written by CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

The sudden firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper "to some large extent" throws the system into turmoil, CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said.

"This really is, at least at this minute, a shockwave through the Pentagon. Everybody knew Esper was on the outs with the President, but there was this sense, if you will, that he could make it through the end of the administration," Starr told CNN's Brianna Keilar.

Starr said there are a number of things at the Pentagon that are "exceptionally critical" like President Trump's insistence of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by Christmas, despite military commanders telling the President that it's too optimistic due to a high level of violence. The same goes for troops in Syria, Iraq and special forces across Africa.

"What will happen with the troops? Is the President simply going to issue an edict, he wants everybody to come home? That would throw things into significant disarray because the US military wants to have an enduring presence overseas, extend US influence with allies and keep a sharp watch on adversaries," Starr explained.

Esper was also scheduled to travel to Europe next week to talk about troop withdrawal from Germany and a revised US military presence on the continent, now it's unclear if that will happen with the new acting secretary of defense, Starr said.

Starr also noted that the firing of Esper leaves Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the "hot seat."

"Milley's now the guy the President will ultimately turn to for military advice and will he be able to convince the President, you know, not to have a period of turmoil in national security" approximately 70 days out from inauguration?

CNN's Barbara Starr reports: