The latest on Biden's transition

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 6:05 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020
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12:16 p.m. ET, December 28, 2020

The House will vote this afternoon to override Trump's veto on the National Defense Authorization Act

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Following President-elect Joe Biden's remarks this afternoon on national security, the House is set to vote at 5 p.m. ET on two key items, one of which will test the loyalty of the Republican Party to President Trump.

The House will vote to override the President's veto on the National Defense Authorization Act. It will require a two-thirds majority vote. Republicans in leadership haven't whipped the bill. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said that he won't vote to override Trump's veto even though he voted for the underlying bill.

Members of the Freedom Caucus and a handful of other Republicans are expected to follow McCarthy's lead.

However, Democrats are growing increasingly confident that they will have the votes they need to override the veto. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith told CNN's Dana Bash on Sunday night that he thought the votes would be there and even Republican aides are saying they believe there is a very good chance Trump's veto is overridden Monday night in the House.

The House will also vote on increasing stimulus checks to $2,000. It will also require a two-thirds majority vote because it is occurring under a suspension of the rules.

Remember: Even if the process begins in the Senate on Tuesday to override the NDAA, any single senator can object, likely delaying the actual vote until Sunday when both the House and Senate reconvene for the first day of the 117th Congress.

Read more here.

11:01 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

President-elect Biden to provide overview of national security later today

From CNN's Aaron Pellish 

Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will deliver brief remarks this afternoon in Wilmington, Delaware, following a briefing from members of his national security and foreign policy agency review teams. 

A transition official says the briefing will focus in large part on the findings of the review teams since the delayed GSA ascertainment of Biden’s victory several weeks ago. Biden’s remarks will serve as a broad overview of some of those key points.  

We can also expect that the briefing he receives from agency review teams will be less about specific headlines in the news, but more broadly about the country’s institutional health and wellness on the national security and foreign policy fronts.

11:16 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Some Republicans plan to challenge Biden's Electoral College victory next week

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Congress will count the Electoral College votes in a joint session of Congress on January 6, which represents President Trump's final chance to try to overturn the election result he lost to Biden.

In reality, Trump's Republican allies have virtually zero chance of changing the result, only to delay the inevitable affirmation of Biden as the Electoral College winner and the next president.

That hasn't stopped Trump — who has spread baseless conspiracy theories to falsely claim he won the election — from pressing for Congress to dispute the result next month. Just before Christmas, Trump hosted House Republicans at the White House who have been spearheading the effort to object to the Electoral College results, led by GOP Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.

"I believe we have multiple senators, and the question is not if, but how many," Brooks said last week.

Brooks said the Republicans are preparing to object to Biden's win in as many as six states, which would force a dozen hours of debate on the House and Senate floors, turning the counting of Biden's victory into a political circus.

Some background: When Congress met to tally the results of the 2004 presidential election, then-Sen. Barbara Boxer stood alone on the Senate floor to object to President George W. Bush's reelection victory in Ohio over Democrat John Kerry, forcing the House and Senate to vote for only the second time in a century on whether to reject a state's Electoral College votes.

It's the same scenario that could play out next week with President Trump publicly urging his supporters in Congress to object to President-elect Joe Biden's victory in battleground states that expanded mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A group of House Republicans is preparing to object, and they need at least one senator to join them to force the chambers to vote on the matter.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has privately urged Senate Republicans to steer clear, several senators have declined to rule out taking part, and incoming GOP Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has left open the possibility he will join the effort.

Democrats and even some Republicans are warning against a challenge, despite the precedent laid by Boxer. In an interview with CNN, Boxer said that the circumstances are totally different this year, when Trump and his allies are seeking to overturn a national election result, than when she joined with then-Ohio Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones to object to Kerry's loss.

Read more here.

10:11 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

These will be the key members of Biden's White House digital operation

From CNN's Dan Merica

Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden named a slate of digital operatives to his incoming White House staff on Monday, preparing for an administration that, at least at the outset, will conduct most of its public-facing business digitally amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The newly minted staffers named to the White House Office of Digital Strategy include a number of longtime Democratic operatives, many of whom worked for Biden's presidential campaign.

The group will be asked to not only recreate the digital operation that helped defeat President Trump, but to build out an operation that follows a president who wielded more social media power than any of his predecessors.

Here's a look at the team announced so far:

  • Rob Flaherty, who worked as the digital director of the Biden campaign, will assume the role of director of digital strategy in the White House.
  • Jamie Lopez will work as director of platforms.
  • Brendan Cohen, who previously served as the deputy director of editorial on the Biden campaign, will serve as the platform manager of the digital operation.
  • They will be joined by Jonathan Hebert as video director and Carahna Magwood as creative director, both of whom held similar roles on the Biden campaign.

Some background: Biden's cash-strapped Democratic primary campaign was not the most digitally savvy operation and many Democrats believed the former vice president won the nomination despite a lack of serious investment in digital organizing and communication.

But Biden's campaign began to invest heavily in its digital operation as the Democratic primary ended and the general election began, just as almost all political campaigning moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden conducted much of his campaign in the early days of the pandemic from his home in Delaware, putting increased importance and pressure on his digital organizing operation.

9:58 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Biden's inauguration is less than a month away. These are the key roles he is yet to announce. 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

President-elect Joe Biden has yet to announce several key roles in his incoming administration, including attorney general, labor secretary and commerce secretary.

Biden's goal was to have all —or most — of his remaining Cabinet selections announced by Christmas, a transition official previously told CNN.

His self-imposed deadline of Christmas slipped away, but aides said he is expected to announce these remaining positions by early January.

Here are the positions that haven't yet been announced:

  • Attorney general
  • CIA director
  • Secretary of commerce
  • Secretary of labor
  • Small business administrator

Here's a look at who Biden has selected so far for his Cabinet and other top roles:

10:10 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Democratic Georgia Senate campaigns “sounding the alarm” over ad spending in contentious runoff race

From CNN's Ryan Nobles and DJ Judd

Supporters cheer for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as she speaks in support of Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff during a drive-in rally on December 21, in Columbus, Georgia.
Supporters cheer for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as she speaks in support of Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff during a drive-in rally on December 21, in Columbus, Georgia. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

In a memo released to supporters today, campaign managers for Democratic Senate candidates on Jon Ossoff's and Rev. Raphael Warnock’s campaigns made an impassioned plea for donations, warning “We are sounding the alarm,” over ad spending in Georgia’s Senate Runoff Elections.

The memo, first obtained by CNN, was signed by Jerid Kurtz, Warnock’s campaign manager, and Ellen Foster, Ossoff’s campaign manager, and acknowledged, “We’re being outspent by $80 million on TV alone as Mitch McConnell and his special interest allies try to keep two of their most reliable votes in the U.S. Senate.” 

New filings show Warnock and Ossoff each brought in more than $100 million in the last two months in a record-setting fundraising blitz with both candidates garnering significant national attention in races that could determine the sway of the United States Senate. 

Both are embroiled in contentious Senate runoffs, since neither incumbent Senator netted the 50% necessary to prevent a Senate runoff in the November election.

Still, Republican outside groups, including groups led by Karl Rove and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have helped make up ground, while three super PACs associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- American Crossroads, the Senate Leadership Fund and the newly launched Peachtree PAC -- have bought more than $137 million in advertising to sway the contests.

In the memo to supporters Monday, Ossoff’s and Warnock’s campaigns acknowledged the huge haul, writing, “We know that may be hard to believe after our campaigns reported record-breaking fundraising, but to keep our critical mobilization programs fully operational through the end of the election, we need a significant increase in grassroots donations between now and Election Day,” and telling supporters, “running a field program in the pandemic that ensures the proper safety protocols are in place has proven to be very expensive.” 

CNN's Fredreka Schouten contributed reporting to this post.

9:36 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

The Electoral College votes will be counted in Congress on Jan. 6. Here's how it will work.

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf and Will Mullery

Voters voted. States counted the votes. Challenges were heard and rejected. The Electoral College made President-elect Joe Biden's victory completely official.

The time for President Trump's repeated baseless allegations of fraud is over, but that doesn't mean the drama has ended. Lawmakers follow an archaic timeline set out the Constitution and US law to make Biden president.

Just as then-Vice President Biden oversaw the counting of electoral votes that gave Trump the White House in 2017, now it will be Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's loyal soldier these last four years, who will announce the vote tally that officially makes Biden the winner. Read more about that here.

And Republicans will have to choose how deeply they want to follow Trump into his rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.

Lawmakers will have the ability to raise objections about the vote — just like some Democrats did in 2017. But while those objections were dismissed easily in 2017, Republican senators could, if they choose, drag the process out this year, and force the House and Senate to vote on individual points.

Here's a breakdown of what will take place on Jan. 6:

  • Electoral votes are counted in Congress.
  • Members of the House and the Senate will meet in the House chamber. The President of the Senate — that's Vice President Mike Pence — will preside over the session and the electoral votes will be read and counted in alphabetical order by two appointees each from the House and Senate.
  • They will then give their tallies to Pence, who will announce the results and listen for objections.
  • If there are objections, 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 to a majority — that's 270 — then the 435 members of the House decide the election. Each state gets a vote. So while there are more Democrats in the House, Republicans, as of now, control more state delegations, so it is possible the House could pick Trump even though there is a Democratic majority.
  • The House has until noon on January 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.

10:02 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Trump will hold a rally in Georgia on eve of Senate runoff election

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before boarding Marine One on Saturday, December 12.
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before boarding Marine One on Saturday, December 12. Patrick Semansky/AP

Amid all the other news Sunday night, an announcement was released that President Trump will travel to Georgia on Jan. 4, the eve of the crucial Senate runoff elections that will determine which party will control the chamber.

This event, billed as a “Victory Rally,” will be in Dalton at 7 p.m. ET.

As CNN's Ryan Nobles reported, the President's initial refusal to sign the coronavirus relief package put Georgia Republicans running for reelection, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, in an awkward spot. 

After Trump signed the bill, the GOP candidates put out a statement praising the decision.

More on the election: Democrats need to win both seats to force a 50-50 Senate and gain control with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris eventually casting the tie breaking vote.

9:58 a.m. ET, December 28, 2020

Fauci shares Biden's concern that worst may still be ahead in Covid-19 fight

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar before receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 22, in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar before receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 22, in Bethesda, Maryland. Patrick Semansky/Pool/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday expressed concern that the worst may still come in America's battle against Covid-19, agreeing with President-elect Joe Biden's recent assessment that the "darkest days" in fighting the virus lie ahead.

"And the reason I'm concerned and my colleagues in public health are concerned also is that we very well might see a post-seasonal, in the sense of Christmas, New Year's, surge, and, as I have described it, as a surge upon a surge, because, if you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we have experienced as we have gone into the late fall and soon-to-be-early winter, it is really quite troubling," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union."

"We are really at a very critical point. ... So I share the concern of President-elect Biden that as we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse."

The comments from the nation's top infectious disease expert come as the US records its deadliest month since the coronavirus pandemic's start .

Last week, Biden warned the "darkest days" in the battle against the virus "are ahead of us, not behind us," and urged Americans to prepare themselves for the struggle while criticizing President Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic.

"One thing I promise you about my leadership during this crisis: I'm going to tell it to you straight. I'm going to tell you the truth. And here's the simple truth: Our darkest days in the battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us," Biden, who has received a coronavirus vaccine, said in remarks at the time.

"So we need to prepare ourselves, to steel our spines. As frustrating as it is to hear, it's going to take patience, persistence and determination to beat this virus. There will be no time to waste in taking the steps we need to turn this crisis around," he said.