Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:49 PM ET, Wed November 11, 2020
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9:48 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Biden vows to closely cooperate with South Korea on relations with North Korea

From CNN’s Jake Kwon

South Korean President Moon Jae-in congratulated President-elect Joe Biden in a phone call on Thursday morning, Blue House spokesperson Kang Min-seok said in a briefing. 

Moon and Biden exchanged opinions on South Korea and US relations, North Korean nuclear arms, Covid-19, and climate change, Kang said. 

Moon said he wishes to closely communicate with Biden on developing the US-South Korean alliance, and denuclearization and permanent peace on Korean Peninsula, Kang said.

Kang also said that Biden called South Korea a "linchpin" in Indo-pacific regional security and prosperity and added that he will "firmly maintain defense of South Korea and closely cooperate to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue."

Biden also said he hopes that the two nations can closely cooperate on the issues of Covid-19, global economic recovery, climate change, democracy, and Indo-pacific regional peace, according to Kang.

Kang said Biden expressed admiration for South Korea's Covid-19 response and said that the US had a long way to go to respond as South Korea has done.

 

8:36 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Australian prime minister congratulates Joe Biden

From CNN’s Sophie Jeong

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference on October 16, in Sydney, Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference on October 16, in Sydney, Australia. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken to President-elect Joe Biden and congratulated him on his election, Morrison said in a tweet. 

“There are no greater friends and no greater allies than Australia and the US,” Morrison tweeted. “I look forward to strengthening even further our deep and enduring alliance, and to working with him closely as we face the world’s many challenges together.”

Morrison also said he looks forward to celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS) next year.

Morrison noted in a statement on Sunday that Biden “has been a great friend of Australia over many years.”

 

8:31 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Klain says he's "honored" to be chosen as Biden's chief of staff

Ron Klain said he felt "honored" to be chosen as President-elect Joe Biden's chief of staff, according to a tweet he sent this evening.

"I’ve seen so many kind wishes tonight on this website. Thank you - and I’m sorry I can’t reply to each of you," Klain tweeted. "I’m honored by the President-elect’s confidence and will give my all to lead a talented and diverse team in a Biden-Harris WH."

Read the message:

8:03 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Ron Klain accepts Biden's chief of staff job

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator, speaks during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, on Tuesday, March 10.
Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator, speaks during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, on Tuesday, March 10. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has formally offered the job of White House chief of staff to longtime adviser Ron Klain, officials familiar with the decision told CNN.

Klain accepted the offer and will begin a new era of service to Biden, officials said, with a formal announcement set for Thursday.

The Biden campaign has issued a statement officially naming Klain as Biden's choice.

“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again,” Biden said in the statement.

7:40 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

GOP elections lawyer: Trump's legal barrage "looking like a losing effort"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Renowned Republican elections lawyer Ben Ginsberg said today that President Trump's effort to challenge election results in swing states are already proving to be futile.

"What you are also seeing today in court is ... affidavits that don't even challenge votes, but that challenge the process, are really getting derided by judges around the country," said Ginsberg, speaking with CNN's Erin Burnett. 

Pointing to legal battles in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Michigan, Ginsburg said there have been a few "bad court days" for the Trump campaign.

"More and more, this is looking like a losing effort and that brand is eventually gonna stick to the President," he said. 

As of the recount of 5 million votes that's about to begin in Georgia, Ginsberg said to expect a few hundred votes to change at the most. 

6:44 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Georgia's secretary of state says he has not seen evidence of widespread voter fraud

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, November 11, in Atlanta.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, November 11, in Atlanta. Brynn Anderson/AP

Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger today said he has seen no evidence of voter fraud that could upend President-elect Joe Biden's lead of about 14,000 votes, even as he prepares to begin a process that will lead to a statewide recount.

"We have ongoing investigations but we've not seen something widespread of a large nature, nothing in the order of over 10,000," said Raffensperger, when asked CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he had seen evidence of mass voter fraud. 

Georgia announced earlier on Wednesday that there would be a full hand recount of the presidential race in the state. 

Raffensperger noted there has never been a recount in the state that has changed the vote by a margin large enough for President Trump to overtake Biden's lead.

"We believe that the ballots were counted accurately with the machine count and the risk-limiting audit ... the hand counts of the statewide recount will confirm that," he said.

Raffensperger is preparing for the audit under calls for his resignation from both incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue who have alleged, without evidence, that the state's election process was faulty. Both senators appear to be headed for runoff elections in January.

Neither of those candidates have provided his office with evidence of wrongdoing so far, Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger also noted he had launched the recount process independent of any pressure from the White House saying, "they haven't called me."

6:19 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Sen. Bernie Sanders says he would accept the job of Labor secretary if asked by Biden

From CNN's Annie Grayer

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at town hall at the National Motorcycle Museum on January 3, in Anamosa, Iowa.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at town hall at the National Motorcycle Museum on January 3, in Anamosa, Iowa. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told CNN's Wolf Blitzer he would accept the job of Labor secretary if President-elect Joe Biden asked him to join the cabinet.

“If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it? Yes I would,” Sanders said.

Asked if it is true that he is eying the position of Labor secretary, Sanders said, “what’s true is I want to do everything I can to protect the working families of this country who are under tremendous duress right now. Whether that’s in the Senate, whether that’s in the Biden administration, who knows? Well, let’s see how that unfolds.”

CNN previously reported that Sanders has started to ramp up a campaign to become Labor secretary in Biden’s cabinet and is seeking the support of top labor leaders.

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

Biden poised to announce his White House chief of staff as early as Thursday

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President-elect Joe Biden addresses the media about the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act on November 10, at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden addresses the media about the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act on November 10, at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is poised to name his White House chief of staff as early as Thursday, with longtime adviser Ron Klain the leading finalist for the post, three people familiar with the matter told CNN. 

Biden is also narrowing in on selecting the rest of his senior team of West Wing advisers, CNN has learned, with some announcements also possible before the end of the week, followed by others in weeks to come.

Some context: This comes as no surprise, of course, given that Klain served as Biden’s chief of staff during the opening years of his vice presidency and has been seen as the top prospect for the critical job as gatekeeper to the President.

Klain also served as White House Ebola response coordinator in 2014 and has taken considerable interest in the response to coronavirus, which is a central priority for the incoming Biden administration.

Biden does not expect to make any announcements on cabinet nominations until after Thanksgiving, he has said, with advisers adding that “early December” is the target date.

The first batch of announcements are likely to be for those with health, economic and defense portfolios, officials said, with other cabinet members possibly delayed until early January, when the outcome of the Georgia Senate run-offs are known and it’s clear whether Republicans have maintained control of the Senate.

4:28 p.m. ET, November 11, 2020

Retiring Republican senator refuses to acknowledge Biden's victory

From CNN's Sarah Fortinsky 

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is seen in the basement of the Capitol before a Senate vote on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is seen in the basement of the Capitol before a Senate vote on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is retiring in 2022, declined to acknowledge Wednesday that Joe Biden is President-elect, but said it does appear Biden will be certified as President-elect "relatively soon." 

“I think we're going to adjudicate several disputes. That's all part of this process. It'll be done soon enough, and I think the outcome will be clear,” Toomey said, when The Washington Post's Robert Costa directly asked if he considers Biden to be President-elect during an interview on Post Live Election Daily.

Toomey is among the majority of Republican senators who continue to deny recognizing Biden as President-elect, despite the fact that CNN and other major networks have all projected Biden as the winner.

Toomey said if Republicans hold the Senate majority, a Biden cabinet will remain an “ongoing discussion,” as the cabinet is a "shared responsibility" between the president and Congress.

"I think people who are well outside of the political mainstream don’t belong in really important senior-level Cabinet type posts, and that’s why that’ll be an ongoing discussion, I think, between a Republican Senate, and, Joe Biden should he, in fact, get sworn in as President,” he said.

On the termination of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other personnel changes in the intelligence community, Toomey said, "Look, presidents get to make that decision about their cabinet members, and there have been, it's not a state secret that Defense Secretary Esper and the President have had disagreements about public policy, so it's not shocking that the President would make a change."