Michigan certified its election results. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce his picks for key roles in his cabinet and administration. Some would make history, including the first women to serve as Treasury secretary and director of national intelligence and the first Latino to serve as secretary of homeland security.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The G.S.A. administrator has formally designated Biden the apparent winner of the presidential election.
- Michigan certifies its election results, making Biden’s win official and rebuffing Trump.
- Trump is renovating Mar-a-Lago, ostensibly preparing for life post-presidency.
- Republicans, caught between Trump’s wrath and reality, have splintered into two groups.
- Biden is expected to name Janet Yellen, former Fed Chair, as Treasury secretary. She’d be the first woman in the job.
- Biden will tap Avril Haines to lead intelligence and Alejandro Mayorkas to run Homeland Security.
- Philadelphia is the latest county in Pennsylvania to certify results.
- The G.O.P. bungles its final stand to stop Pennsylvania’s election certification.
Get email alerts with live updates about the U.S. presidential transition.
The G.S.A. administrator has formally designated Biden the apparent winner of the presidential election.
Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, on Monday formally designated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the apparent winner of the presidential election, providing federal funds and resources to begin a transition and authorizing his advisers to begin coordinating with Trump administration officials.
President Trump said on Twitter Monday night that he was authorizing his staff to begin “initial protocols” for the transition process. He did not concede the election, and vowed to persist with efforts to undermine the vote that have so far proved fruitless. But he acknowledged in his most explicit terms yet that his time in the White House was coming to an end.
Ms. Murphy’s decision came after several more senior Republican lawmakers denounced her delay in allowing the peaceful transfer of power to begin, a delay that Mr. Biden and his top aides said was threatening national security and the ability of the incoming administration to effectively plan for combating the ongoing pandemic.
In her letter, Ms. Murphy said she was “never directly or indirectly pressured by any executive branch official — including those who work at the White House or the G.S.A.” She defended her delay by saying that she did not want to get ahead of the constitutional process of counting votes and picking a president.
“I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process,” she wrote in a letter to Mr. Biden’s transition.
Mr. Trump, in a tweet shortly after Ms. Murphy’s announcement, made clear that he accepted it.
“Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!” Mr. Trump wrote. “Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”
Ms. Murphy refuted Mr. Trump’s assertion that he directed her to make the decision, saying in her letter that “I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts.”
In her letter, Ms. Murphy said she made her decision on Monday because of “recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results,” likely referring to the certification of votes by election officials in several states and a string of court decisions that have rejected Mr. Trump’s challenges.
Ms. Murphy’s decision was first reported on CNN Monday afternoon.
Michigan’s statewide electoral board approved its presidential vote tally on Monday, resisting pressure from Mr. Trump to delay the process and paving the way for Mr. Biden to receive the state’s 16 electoral votes. In Pennsylvania, the State Supreme Court ruled against the Trump campaign and Republican allies, stating that roughly 8,000 ballots with signature or date issues must be counted.
Most of Mr. Trump’s Republican allies had stood by his side as he attempted to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory. But on Monday, some of the Senate’s most senior Republicans sharply urged Ms. Murphy to allow the transition to proceed.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a senior Republican who is retiring this year, issued his second call in the last three days for a prompt transition.
“Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed,” said Mr. Alexander, a close friend of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”
Earlier in the day, Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia released statements breaking from Mr. Trump and calling for Mr. Biden to begin receiving coronavirus and national security briefings.
“In an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer published on Monday, Mr. Portman acknowledged that “a substantial majority of the nearly 74 million Americans who supported President Trump question the legitimacy of the election.” But he insisted that voters needed to understand that despite statewide efforts to recount votes, “the initial determination showing Joe Biden with enough electoral votes to win has not changed.”
Michigan Certifies Biden’s Win for 2020 Election
Election officials in Michigan certified its election results on Monday, resisting pressure from President Trump to delay the process and making President-elect Biden’s win official.
“At this time, will you please take a roll call vote? Chair Bradshaw?” “Yes.” “Vice chair Van Langevelde?” “Yes.” “Ms. Matuzak?” “Yes.” “Mr. Shinkle?” “Abstain.” “Madam Chair, you have three ‘Aye’ votes for this motion —” “The motion does move.” “Madam Chair —” “Yes.” “Second motion, I move that the Board of State Canvassers authorize the staff of the Bureau of Elections to represent the board in any recount of votes cast at the Nov. 3, 2020 general election.” “Support.” “It has been moved and supported. Is there any discussion on the motion? At this time, will you please take a roll call vote?” “Chair Bradshaw?” “Yes.” “Vice chair Van Langevelde?” “Yes.” “Ms. Matuzak?” “Yes.” “Mr Shinkle?” “Yes.” “Thank you, Madam Chair, you have for ‘Aye’ votes. That motion does pass.”0:120:57
Michigan Certifies Biden’s Win for 2020 ElectionBy The Associated Press
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Election officials in Michigan certified its election results on Monday, resisting pressure from President Trump to delay the process and making President-elect Biden’s win official.CreditCredit…Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
Michigan’s statewide electoral board approved its presidential vote tally on Monday, resisting pressure from President Trump to delay the process and paving the way for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to receive the state’s 16 electoral votes.
The Michigan vote was one of the biggest setbacks yet for Mr. Trump, who had directly intervened in the state’s electoral process to voice support for Republican officials who had made false claims about the integrity of the vote, and invited Michigan G.O.P. legislative leaders to the White House on Friday. Those leaders said afterward that they would allow the normal certification process to play out.
After reviewing the State Bureau of Elections’ report, which showed Mr. Biden winning the state by 154,000 votes over Mr. Trump, the Michigan board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, voted 3 to 0 with one abstention to certify the results. Norm Shinkle, one of the Republican members of the board, abstained.
The 3–0 vote came after several hours of comments from local clerks, elected officials and the public, most of whom said that the board’s legal role was only to certify the results of the election.
Chris Thomas, the former director of the State Bureau of Elections and a special adviser to the city of Detroit for the 2020 election, said the board has no discretion to do anything but certify the election because the 83 county clerks had already canvassed the results. When asked by Mr. Shinkle, the Republican member, if the board could adjourn without taking a vote, Mr. Thomas said there was no reason to leave without doing their job.
“You are the end game,” Mr. Thomas said. “You’ve got winners. You’ve got losers. You don’t have ties. Not everyone gets a trophy.”
As the meeting wore on, it became clear that the other Republican member on the canvassing board, Aaron Van Langevelde, was leaning toward certifying the results. He asked multiple times if the board had the legal authority to do anything other than certify the results.
“I’ve had a pretty good chance to look at the law. There is nothing in the law that gives me the authority to request an audit,” he said. “I think the law is on my side here, we have no authority to request an audit or delay or block the certification.”Which States Have Certified Presidential Vote TotalsHere’s a look at how many electoral votes have been certified — or made official — so far.
The certification officially delivers to Mr. Biden a key battleground that Mr. Trump had wrested away from Democrats four years ago, and rebuffs the president’s legal and political efforts to overturn the results with false claims of voter fraud and long-shot efforts to postpone certification.
The proceedings Monday followed a week of electoral drama in Michigan, which started when the Board of Canvassers for Wayne County, Michigan’s largest, initially deadlocked on certifying the results because of minor discrepancies in the vote tally.
Monica Palmer, one of the two Republican members of the board, suggested that it certify the results without including the city of Detroit, where voters, many of them African-American, gave Mr. Biden 94 percent of the vote.
After several hours of outraged commentary from voters who were watching the livestreamed meeting, the board came back, unanimously certified the results and, to satisfy Ms. Palmer and her Republican colleague, William Hartmann, asked for a comprehensive investigation of the results by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
Ms. Palmer and Mr. Hartmann received a call from Mr. Trump after the meeting, and the next day reversed their decision and said they wanted to rescind their votes; they said they felt they were misled about whether an investigation would actually take place.
The pressure campaign intensified on Friday when Mr. Trump invited seven Michigan lawmakers to the White House, leading to speculation that he might pressure them to try to delay certification. Afterward, the speaker of the State House, Lee Chatfield, of Levering in northern Michigan, and the State Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, of Clarklake in southern Michigan, said they had not seen anything that would change the results of the election and were committed to letting the normal process of certifying the election take its course.
That seemed to forestall the possibility of the state legislature stepping in and naming a new slate of electors who would favor Mr. Trump, a scenario Democrats feared and that the president openly encouraged in a Twitter post on Saturday night.
The leaders of the national and Michigan Republican committees, Ronna McDaniel and Laura Cox, sent a letter to the Board of Canvassers on Saturday, asking them to delay certifying the results until an audit of the results could be done.
Ms. Benson said the state was planning to do a postelection audit, but under state law, it can’t begin until the election results are certified because the state can’t legally gain access to poll books and ballot boxes until that task is done. Such audits have taken place in 120 communities since Ms. Benson took office in 2019.
“This is nothing new,” she said. “Those audits are not conducted or performed in response to mythical allegations of irregularities that have no basis in fact. The audit is a statewide proactive, voluntary planned action that our office is taking. To confirm the integrity of the vote, but also to identify areas for future improvement.”
Feinstein, under fire by progressives, says she will step down as top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the Senate’s oldest member, said on Monday that she would relinquish the top Democratic spot on the Judiciary Committee next year, bowing to intense pressure by progressives who said she was not up to the task of leading a crucial panel at the forefront of the partisan war over the courts in a new Biden administration.
“After serving as the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for four years, I will not seek the chairmanship or ranking member position in the next Congress,” Ms. Feinstein, 87, said in a statement. Ms. Feinstein, the former chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said she did not intend to pursue committee leadership at all, but would focus more intently instead on the dual threats of wildfire and drought threatening her state.
Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, who is next in seniority, intends to pursue the position, according to his spokeswoman. Mr. Durbin is also the Democratic whip, but caucus rules do not preclude him from doing both jobs.
Progressives had been pushing Democratic leaders hard in recent weeks to bar Ms. Feinstein from returning to her post next year, when Democrats hope they will control the committee. They believed that despite her towering status in the Senate, Ms. Feinstein’s record as a genteel deal-maker made her the wrong fit for an increasingly bruising partisan arena on the Judiciary Committee. Those stylistic differences have been exacerbated by Ms. Feinstein’s advancing age.
Progressives were livid, for instance, when Ms. Feinstein praised Republicans for their handling of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination hearings last month, even though G.O.P. leaders had broken with precedent and their own professed opposition to election-year confirmations to fast-track the approval of President Trump’s choice before he faced voters. A photograph of the California Democrat hugging the committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, after Justice Barrett’s nomination was approved ricocheted across the internet, drawing condemnation from liberal groups.
They feared that under President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s leadership, Ms. Feinstein would be too gentle with Republicans who would seek to block his appointments to the federal courts.
Brian Fallon, the director of the progressive organization Demand Justice, which called for Ms. Feinstein’s removal after the hearings, warned that her replacement “cannot wishfully cling to a bygone era of civility and decorum.”
“It will take someone committed to undoing the damage Trump and McConnell have done to our courts, no matter what it takes,” he said, referring to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who led a concerted strategy to pack the federal courts with conservatives during Mr. Trump’s tenure.
Ms. Feinstein said she would use her perch as a senior Democrat on four influential committees — Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations and Rules — to “work with the Biden administration on priorities like gun safety, immigration reform and addressing inequities in criminal justice.”
“I will continue to do my utmost to bring about positive change in the coming years,” she said.
President Trump is having construction work done in the final months of his presidency on his living quarters at Mar-a-Lago, where he plans to be a full-time resident, two people told of the work said. The work is in part to update the existing space, but also to make what is a relatively small living area more accessible for the Trump family, they said.
A spokeswoman for First Lady Melania Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump also did not respond to a request for comment.
The construction work was first reported by ABC News. The fact of the work being done underscores that Mr. Trump is preparing for life after the presidency, even as his campaign lawyers file a series of challenges aimed at delaying certification of the vote.
The Trumps in 2019 filed to change their residency from New York to the West Palm Beach, Fla., social club that the president has owned for more than two decades. According to ABC News, the U.S. Secret Service has asked agents about relocating there, presumably for the post-presidency. But the work to enhance Mr. Trump’s residential quarters will raise more questions about whether he is misusing Mar-a-Lago, which is not supposed to serve as a full-time residence for anyone as part of an agreement with Palm Beach officials that had allowed it to become a club in the 1990s.
Republicans have divided themselves into two camps as they struggle to cope with the reality that President Trump has, indeed, lost the election.
In the first group are the so-called “establishment” Republicans who are beyond the immediate reach or unafraid of the president’s political wrath, a category that includes business groups, national security leaders, wealthy Republican donors, ex-office holders now on the punditry circuit, state officials determined to abide by local norms and law, and a smattering of Republicans with independent streaks in relatively safe seats.
The second group, broadly speaking, consists of Republican elected officials inching slowly toward the inevitable acceptance of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory as pending legal disputes continue to fail, in hopes their slow-rolling will confer a kind of herd immunity from any retaliation by Mr. Trump.
“Nobody wants to antagonize Trump’s base,” said Alex Conant, a veteran Republican political consultant. “But the reality of the outcome is bringing things to a head.”
Until now, the safest refuge for some Republicans has been to say they are waiting out the results of court cases, but that defense is weakening as Mr. Trump’s legal effort collapses in full public view and the dangers of delaying the transition grow.
“The window for legal challenges and recounts is rapidly closing,” said Senator Shelly Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, in statement calling for the White House to begin transition planning.
“At some point,” she added, “the 2020 election must end.”
On Monday, the Biden-won camp stepped up their calls to commence the transition, emboldened by Mr. Trump’s humbling loss in a Pennsylvania federal court, by his attempt to strong-arm local officials into overturning or delaying certification of the results, and by his fractious legal team peddling outrageous conspiracy theories.
More than 100 chief executives of large businesses around the country signed an open letter to Emily W. Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, to immediately acknowledge Mr. Biden as the president-elect and commence the transition process, in hopes of minimizing the shock to the pandemic-weakened economy that a fumbled handoff could cause.
That echoed an equally forceful call to concede by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — an archetype of the Republican establishment — last week.
At the same time, a top Trump ally, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone, the private equity firm, said in a statement that “the outcome is very certain today and the country should move on,” adding that he was “now ready to help President-elect Biden and his team.”
Mr. Schwarzman is not alone. Sheldon Adelson, the gaming mogul who is one of the president’s biggest campaign benefactors, signaled through a newspaper he owns, The Las Vegas Review-Journal, that it was time for Mr. Trump to surrender to the “inevitable.”
Most congressional Republicans — led by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell — have refused to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory, but there were signs on Monday that the dynamic was shifting.
Senator Patrick J. Toomey — a Pennsylvania Republican who does not plan to seek re-election in 2022 — blasted Mr. Trump for attempting to “pressure, cajole, persuade state legislators to dismiss the will of their voters.”
Then came a carefully-worded editorial by another center-right senator, Rob Portman, a former budget director under George W. Bush who is up for re-election in 2022. “There is no more sacred constitutional process in our great democracy than the orderly transfer of power,” Mr. Portman wrote in the editorial, which was published in The Cincinnati Enquirer.
And Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, weighed in over the weekend.
“If the president cannot prove these claims or demonstrate that they would change the election result, he should fulfill his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by respecting the sanctity of our electoral process,” she said in a statement.
That said, there is a third camp — one led by Mr. Trump and his most die-hard supporters: Those who might never concede defeat.
Biden is expected to name Janet Yellen, former Fed Chair, as Treasury secretary. She’d be the first woman in the job.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to nominate Janet L. Yellen, the first woman to lead to the Federal Reserve, as Treasury secretary, according to people familiar with the decision.
The nomination will place her into a critical job at a fraught economic juncture. While growth is recovering from pandemic-related lockdowns earlier in the year, coronavirus infections are climbing and local governments are restricting activity again, likely imperiling that rebound. Any additional government relief could require negotiating with a Republican-controlled Senate. Relations with other nations are frayed after four years of aggressive trade tactics by the Trump administration and the national debt is swelling, with the Treasury Department expected to continue issuing huge volumes of bonds into an increasingly fragile market.
That means Ms. Yellen, 74, will need to bring a mix of political, diplomatic and financial savvy to the job. She is well placed to do so, as one of the most recognizable figures in Washington’s economic spheres. Ms. Yellen is well known on Capitol Hill and well connected globally after leading the Fed from 2014 through 2018. Her long career as an economic policymaker has also given her insight into Wall Street and its major investors.
Ms. Yellen, who became an economist at a time when few women entered or rose in the male-dominated field, has been called many things over the years, including “a feminist hero,” a “small lady with a large I.Q.,” and “Fed chair,” which she preferred over the gendered “chairwoman.”
If confirmed, she will add “Madam Secretary” to the list. That will be a first at the Treasury, which has been led by a white man throughout its 231-year history.
Ms. Yellen declined to comment. Her expected nomination was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
She is a renowned labor economist who taught at the University of California, Berkeley, among other academic posts. She was also chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a Fed governor, Fed vice chair and finally the central bank’s first female chair.
Ms. Yellen wanted to be reappointed when her term at the head of the central bank ended in 2018, but President Trump, eager to install his own pick, decided against renominating her. Instead, he chose Jerome H. Powell, the Fed’s current chair, whom Ms. Yellen has consistently praised since leaving the central bank.
In replacing Ms. Yellen, Mr. Trump broke with precedent. The previous three Fed chairs had been reappointed by presidents of the opposite political party.
Born in Brooklyn in 1946, Ms. Yellen was raised in Bay Ridge, a middle-class neighborhood across the waterfront from Staten Island. Her mother was a teacher who stayed home to raise Ms. Yellen and her brother. Her father was a family doctor. She was both valedictorian and newspaper editor at her high school.
Ms. Yellen is likely to bring a long-held preference for government help for households that are struggling economically and for slightly tighter financial regulation with her to the Treasury.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to name several top national security picks on Tuesday, his transition office said, including his choices to lead the Department of Homeland Security, to head the intelligence community and to serve as climate czar.
At an event in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden will announce his plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to be his secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Avril Haines to be his director of national intelligence, his transition office said. He intends to name John Kerry, a former secretary of state and senator, as a special presidential envoy on climate. The transition office also confirmed reports on Sunday night that Mr. Biden will nominate Antony J. Blinken to be secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.
If confirmed, Mr. Mayorkas, who served as deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2013 to 2016, would be the first Latino to run the department charged with implementing and managing the nation’s immigration policies. And if Ms. Haines is confirmed, she would be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. The director of the C.I.A., now led by Gina Haspel, its first female director, reports to the director of national intelligence.
Mr. Biden will nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations and restore the job to cabinet-level status, giving Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, an African-American woman, a seat on his National Security Council. Mr. Kerry will also receive a seat on the council, although his job is not a cabinet-level position and does not require Senate confirmation.
The emerging team reunites a group of former senior officials from the Obama administration, most of whom worked closely together at the State Department and the White House and in several cases have close ties to Mr. Biden dating back years. They are well known to foreign diplomats around the world and share a belief in the core principles of the Democratic foreign policy establishment — international cooperation, strong U.S. alliances and leadership but a wariness of foreign interventions after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The racial and gender mix reflects Mr. Biden’s stated commitment to diversity, which has lagged behind notoriously in the worlds of foreign policy and national security, where white men are disproportionately represented.
The slate of picks also showed Mr. Biden’s determination to push forward with setting up his administration despite President Trump’s continuing refusal to concede or assist him, even as a small but growing number of Republicans lawmakers and supporters of the president are calling for a formal transition to begin.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was Mr. Biden’s decision to bring back Mr. Kerry in a new role that would signal the new administration’s commitment to fighting climate change. Mr. Kerry, 76, is a former longtime Senate colleague of Mr. Biden’s and a friend who campaigned for him through some of his candidacy’s darkest days during the Democratic primary. And, Democrats say, Mr. Kerry retains his voracious appetite for international affairs. Since serving as Mr. Obama’s second secretary of state from 2013 to 2017, Mr. Kerry elevated his longtime interest in climate to make it his signature issue and currently runs an organization dedicated to the topic. His will be a full-time position.
In terms of staffing beyond the Cabinet, the Biden transition team announced two more picks for White House staff appointments on Monday, both of whom will serve as deputy directors of White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Reema Dodin is a deputy chief of staff and floor director to Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the minority whip, and Shuwanza Goff is a former floor director for the House of Representatives under Steny Hoyer, the majority leader. Ms. Goff is the first Black woman to hold that position.
Multiple counties across Pennsylvania have certified the results of the election, as the process of cementing the results in the state continues despite some scattered efforts by local Republicans to halt the process.
Philadelphia, the largest county in the state and where Mr. Biden built his biggest margin, certified its results on Monday night in a 3–0 vote. The city had waited until after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Monday afternoon in a case involving roughly 8,000 ballots that had signatures but problems with the date or address. The court ruled against the Trump campaign and Republican allies, stating that those ballots must be counted.
The city was the target of most of the Trump campaign’s legal efforts in the state, which was not lost on the commissioners as they certified the results.
“Despite all the meritless litigation and misinformation targeting our electoral system, I’m proud that the birthplace of our Republic held the most transparent and secure election in the history of Philadelphia,” said Al Schmidt, the lone Republican member of the three-person city commissioners office, on Twitter.
In Allegheny County, the second largest county in the state and home to Pittsburgh, the board voted 2–1 to certify the results, with Sam Demarco, the lone Republican member, voting against. Mr. DeMarco said his vote was an attempt to spur action in the state capital to make changes to the state’s voting laws, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
In Luzerne County, which Mr. Trump won by more than 14,000 votes, the board certified the results in a 3–2 vote, again with the Democratic members of the board voting to certify and the two Republicans voting against.
State law dictates that counties in Pennsylvania have to certify their votes by the third Monday after the election. But there is no real penalty for missing the deadline, and multiple counties have missed the deadline in the past.
After the counties certify the results, the process then moves to the secretary of state’s office to sign off on the certification, which she is supposed to complete by Nov. 30, and then to the governor’s office for the final signature and awarding of the electors.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and Gov. Tom Wolf, both of whom are Democrats, are likely to move swiftly once the certification reaches their respective offices.
The Trump campaign had sought to stop the certification of the election in Pennsylvania in court, but a judge rejected that effort in a stinging opinion on Saturday.
“This court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence,” wrote Judge Matthew Brann, a lifelong Republican who had been appointed by former President Barack Obama. “In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state.”
Despite the harsh rebuke, the Trump campaign vowed to press on, and filed an appeal to the Third Circuit on Sunday. In a statement last week, the campaign said it hoped the case would come before the Supreme Court.
But if Pennsylvania certifies its results, it will likely make the Trump campaign’s appeal to the Third Circuit moot, as it is centered around blocking certification.
State Republicans have also filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election by claiming that the state’s expansion of no-excuse absentee ballots, passed last October by a Republican-led legislature and left in place for over a year with no objections until Mr. Trump lost Pennsylvania, was unconstitutional.
Lawyers for the Trump campaign for weeks have placed their hopes on using the law to stop the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results.
But on Monday afternoon, with their prospects of a courtroom victory dwindling, the lawyers filed only a narrow appeal of a loss in a big federal case in Pennsylvania.
The defeat came on Saturday night when a federal judge in Williamsport, Matthew W. Brann, dismissed a lawsuit that claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state and sought to delay the certification of the vote results, which began on Monday morning. As part of his ruling, Judge Brann also denied the Trump campaign’s request to file a revised version of its original complaint, saying there had already been an “undue delay” in the case.
In their appellate brief filed on Monday, the Trump campaign’s lawyers asked the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to let them file a revised complaint, reversing Judge Brann’s decision. The lawyers argued further that if they were allowed to filed a revision, they should also be allowed to hold a hearing on the merits of the second complaint — even though most of the issues it would raise would be ones that Judge Brann has already ruled on and denied.
In a separate case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected on Monday afternoon the final attempts by the Trump campaign and a Republican State Senate candidate to challenge the validity of about 11,000 mail-in ballots submitted with minor defects.
“Here we conclude that while failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters,” the court wrote.
Beyond allowing the votes to be counted, the Supreme Court’s decision put Philadelphia County in position to certify its election results by Monday evening.
The Trump campaign’s initial request to file an appeal in Pennsylvania was so confusing that some of the defendants in the case — boards of elections from Democratic counties — filed a motion Monday asking the court for guidance on how to deal with it.
The Third Circuit has given the Democratic defendants in the case until Tuesday to respond. But by that point , the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote will likely have already occurred, rendering the initial lawsuit moot.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander calls on Trump to allow transition: ‘People remember the last thing you do.’
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee on Monday offered a pointed call for President Trump to begin a peaceful transfer of power, urging him to stand aside if only to preserve his legacy after Michigan’s statewide electoral board approved its presidential vote tally in favor of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“Since it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect, my hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed,” Mr. Alexander said in a statement on Monday evening, his second since Friday urging a start to the transition. “When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do.”
It was a much more direct plea from Mr. Alexander, who appeared to be referring as much to the president as to himself, given his plans to retire at the end of the year after three terms in the Senate and a career that included a stint as governor and as secretary of education.His statement came on a day when more elected Republicans, including Senators Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Rob Portman of Ohio, punctured the Republican resistance to acknowledging Mr. Biden’s victory.
While leading congressional Republicans remain unwilling to recognize Mr. Biden’s win more than two weeks after he was declared the winner, Ms. Capito said in a statement that “if states certify the results as they currently stand,” Mr. Biden would be the presidential victor.
“I have been clear that President Trump — like any candidate for office — has the right to request recounts and to raise legal claims before our courts,” Ms. Capito said in a statement. “However, at some point, the 2020 election must end.”
Noting the “rapidly closing” window for legal challenges and recounts, Ms. Capito vowed to “respect the certified results and will congratulate our nation’s new leaders, regardless of the policy differences I might have with them.”
Mr. Portman, in an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer published on Monday, said there was “no evidence as of now of any widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the result” of the presidential election.
The Ohioan, who is facing re-election in 2022, acknowledged that most of Mr. Trump’s supporters “question the legitimacy of the election,” but he insisted that voters needed to understand that despite statewide efforts to recount votes, “the initial determination showing Joe Biden with enough electoral votes to win has not changed.”
“There is no more sacred constitutional process in our great democracy than the orderly transfer of power after a presidential election,” Mr. Portman wrote. “It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward.”
The move could have implications for Mr. Portman with his party’s conservative base. After Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio acknowledged Mr. Biden’s victory last week, Mr. Trump went after the longtime Republican and hinted that he could be punished for the transgression in a party primary.
“Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio?” Mr. Trump asked on Twitter. “Will be hotly contested!”
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday said he intended to name John Kerry, who served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, as his special presidential envoy for climate, a cabinet-level position in the new administration.
In that role, Mr. Kerry will need to persuade skeptical global leaders, burned by the Trump administration’s hostility toward climate science, that the United States is prepared to resume its leadership role — and will stay the course, regardless of the Biden administration’s future.
Those who know him best say Mr. Kerry is well suited to the role. He has been advocating for action on climate change since he attended the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the framework of United Nations climate talks was formed.
When he served as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state, he helped steer the negotiation of the Paris Agreement, locking down commitments from nearly 200 nations — including his own — to begin to reverse the dangerous warming of the planet.
He also knows the struggle of persuading his own country to take action, having co-authored climate change legislation as a Massachusetts senator that ultimately failed. Then, after joining the Obama administration, he made climate change a core part of the State Department.
The appointment of Mr. Kerry to sit on the National Security Council as a climate envoy elevates the issue of climate change to the highest echelons of government and marks it as an urgent national security threat. “America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat that it is,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement.
As special presidential envoy for climate, Mr. Kerry will participate in ministerial-level meetings with a cabinet rank. He will not have to face Senate confirmation, according to Mr. Biden’s transition team.
The move marks the first time the National Security Council will include an official dedicated to climate change, “reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue,” the transition team said in a statement.
According to Mr. Biden’s transition team, the president-elect will also name in December a White House climate policy coordinator who will help streamline domestic climate change policies throughout the various federal agencies.
— Lisa FriedmanBIDEN’S CLIMATE CHALLENGEJohn Kerry will have to persuade skeptical leaders, burned by Trump’s hostility toward climate science, that the United States is prepared to lead.Continue reading the main story
More than 100 prominent national security experts who are Republicans or served in Republican administrations implored G.O.P. members of Congress on Monday to demand that President Trump concede the election and allow President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s team to begin the transfer of power, saying that Mr. Trump’s refusal to do so risked the nation’s security.
The experts — including former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, and Gen. Michael Hayden, the former director of the C.I.A. — criticized Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept Mr. Biden’s victory, along with his unprecedented attempts to subvert the electoral process.
“President Trump’s refusal to permit the presidential transition also poses significant risks to our national security, at a time when the U.S. confronts a global pandemic and faces serious threats from global adversaries, terrorist groups, and other forces,” the letter states.
The national security experts said Republican leadership should “put politics aside and insist that President Trump cease his dilatory and anti-democratic efforts to undermine the result of the election and begin a smooth and orderly transition of power to President-elect Biden.”
They added these concerns are “not just hypothetical,” referencing how President George W. Bush’s shortened transition because of the electoral disputes in 2000 delayed his ability to confirm cabinet appointees that were responsible for tracking the threat of Al Qaeda terrorists in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Representatives for Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, declined to comment on the letter, instead pointing to remarks Mr. McConnell made on the transition process last week.
“What we all say about it is frankly irrelevant,” Mr. McConnell said. “All of it will happen right on time, and we will swear in the next administration on Jan. 20.”
Most Republican lawmakers have been silent on Mr. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his loss, but in recent days a small number have become increasingly vocal.
ATLANTA — The second recount of Georgia’s five million ballots requested by the Trump campaign will begin Tuesday at 9 a.m. and run through Dec. 2, a top state elections official said. That gives the president a third opportunity to hope for an outcome in the Southern state that is favorable to him, however unlikely it is.
The recount will be only one chapter in a protracted post-election drama in Georgia spurred along by President Trump’s refusal to concede a national election he has clearly lost, and his ongoing and baseless charges of electoral fraud in Georgia and elsewhere.
State officials certified last week that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. had narrowly won Georgia, and Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, certified the state’s 16 electors for the Electoral College on Friday. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and a Trump supporter, has said numerous times that the election process in his state was trustworthy.
A week after Election Day, the Trump campaign demanded a hand-recount, and soon after, Mr. Raffensperger launched one, saying it was part of an auditing process. That recount found uncounted votes in four counties that shrank Mr. Biden’s lead from just over 14,000 votes to about 12,670 votes.
By state law, Mr. Trump was allowed to demand the second recount because he trails his opponent by less than a half a percentage point. This second recount will not be conducted by workers counting stacks of ballots, but rather by scanning machines that will be fed paper ballots in each of Georgia’s 159 counties.
When machines cannot decipher a voter’s intention, that ballot will be adjudicated by three-person teams in each county consisting of a Republican, a Democrat and a county worker. But in a news conference on Monday, Gabriel Sterling, an official in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, said he expected that few ballots would require adjudication, in part because many paper ballots were not hand marked, but rather computer printouts that show the selections voters made on a touchscreen.
He also said it was anticipated that the results of this second audit would likely do little to change the current total.
“The chances of anything moving that much are very low,” Mr. Sterling said in a Monday afternoon news conference via Zoom.
Mr. Sterling had said earlier in the day that there were no plans to include a review of the state’s signature-matching protocols for absentee ballots as part of this recount or any other recount his office had planned. Mr. Trump has incorrectly alleged that the Georgia system “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.”
An examination of the signature-match protocols has been demanded in recent days not only by Mr. Trump, but by a growing number of Georgia Republicans — including Mr. Kemp and Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The latter two are facing competitive runoff races in January that could decide which major party controls the Senate.
The deadline for Georgia counties to complete their count is midnight (between Dec. 2 and Dec. 3). But that may not be the end of Georgia’s election drama. Although a number of lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign or its supporters have already failed in Georgia, conservative lawyers said over the weekend that they could file new lawsuits as early as this week.
The Georgia State Board of Elections adopted a rule on Monday that will require the scanning of absentee ballots to begin eight days before an election. The new rule, designed to make election results available more quickly, will apply to the Senate runoff races in January that will determine control of the Senate.
Previously, counties could — but were not required to — start scanning up to two weeks before Election Day, said a member of the board, David J. Worley. The board also voted to continue its use of secure drop boxes.
More than 1.3 million Georgians cast absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election, and the Senate runoffs, in which Senator Kelly Loeffler will face the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Senator David Perdue will face Jon Ossoff, are expected to inspire high turnout as well.
Georgia is one of several states where the Trump campaign had challenged the election results. On Friday, after a recount, the state certified its results, confirming Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won the state by 12,670 votes, becoming the first Democrat in nearly three decades to win the presidential race in Georgia.