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Trump-Biden transition live updates: Arizona certifies Biden win

Caroline Purser/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 51 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Nov 30, 2:07 pm
Arizona certifies election results, affirming Biden’s win

Arizona has certified the results of the 2020 presidential election, affirming Biden’s victory and officially granting him the state’s 11 electoral votes.

Secretary of State Kathy Hobbs, a Democrat, certified the vote in the presence of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and GOP Attorney General Mark Brnovich, on Monday morning.

“This election was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures -- despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary," Hobbs said.

Ducey added he'll be signing the official documentation "today" to also make way for Arizona's Senator-elect Mark Kelly, who beat GOP Sen. Martha McSally in a special election, to be sworn into office "as swiftly as possible" with the certification of his victory being hand-delivered to the U.S. Senate.

As Hobbs certified the vote, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guiliani vowed in an ongoing "hearing" to continue contesting results in the state.

-ABC News' Meg Cunningham

Nov 30, 12:32 pm
Georgia's secretary of state slams 'dishonest actors,' announces investigations into third-party groups

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spoke before reporters Monday morning at the state capitol building in Atlanta and announced that his office has opened investigations into four third-party groups that he claimed are "working to register people in other states to vote here in Georgia."

However, Raffensperger also maintained the 2020 presidential election was the most secure election in the state's history and slammed against those peddling misinformation surrounding it.

"Once this recount is complete, everyone in Georgia will be able to have even more confidence in the results of our elections, despite the massive amounts of misinformation that is being spread by dishonest actors," Raffensperger said, adding the state's machine recount is on schedule to finish by the midnight Wednesday deadline.

"There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation, and frankly, they're misleading the president, as well, apparently," he added.

Ahead of Senate runoffs Jan. 5, Raffensperger also warned, "Anyone telling you to boycott an election is not on your side."

Gabriel Sterling, the statewide voting system implementation manager, blasted lawsuits questioning the credibility of the state's electoral process as "fever dreams"and shot down the conspiracies about the election including that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes.

"The ridiculous things claimed in these lawsuits are just that, they're insanities, fever dream, made up, internet cabal," he said. "Nothing was shipped from overseas. No votes were switched. We did a hand audit that proved no votes were switched."

Sterling said he feels like he's "playing a game of Whac-A-Mole"-- that every time they shoot down one unfounded claim, another "new crazier one" pops up.

-ABC News' Quinn Scanlan

Nov 30, 11:51 am
Trump discredits Georgia voting system ahead of Senate runoffs

Trump continues to discredit the voting system in Georgia, slamming GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger -- and in doing so, risks undercutting GOP efforts there by discouraging Republican voters ahead of two runoffs on Jan. 5 that will determine the balance of power in the United States Senate.

Referring to Kemp as "hapless," Trump called on him via Twitter Monday morning to use his "emergency powers... to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State" and do signature matching for the absentee ballots again.

It’s unclear what emergency powers the president is referring to that the governor could execute, but signature matching for absentee ballots has already been conducted twice.

Signatures are matched first when a voter applied for an absentee ballot and then again when the voter returned their absentee ballot. Once the signature accompanying the returned ballot is verified, the ballots are separated from the envelopes and there is no way to re-match them because, under the Georgia state Constitution, a voter is entitled to a secret ballot. However, the envelopes are kept on file for two years.

It comes ahead of Trump traveling to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for the Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs.

-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan

Nov 30, 10:08 am
Overview: Biden to get first Presidential Daily Brief, Trump legal team challenging Arizona certification

Biden is slated to receive his first Presidential Daily Brief Monday marking a milestone for the president-elect following a nearly three-week delay in the Trump administration recognizing him as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
It comes after Biden, who has pressed forward with his transition despite Trump’s roadblocks, announced he’ll enter the White House with an all-female communications team and unveiled his economic team Monday morning, naming former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his nominee for Treasury Secretary, the first woman to hold the top job if confirmed.

In another challenge to his transition, the president-elect fractured his right foot while playing with his dog, Major, over the weekend, and is expected to wear a walking boot for several weeks.

Trump, meanwhile, isn’t acknowledging the loss even after appearing to come to terms with it on Thanksgiving and saying he would leave the White House if the Electoral College affirms Biden’s win.

In a defiant interview with Fox Business Sunday, Trump fired off false claims to sow doubt in the electoral process and vowed to continue legal battles with his team on Monday targeting Arizona’s certification deadline. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and campaign adviser Jenna Ellis are expected to appear from D.C. at another non-official "hearing" of state GOP lawmakers at a Phoenix hotel Monday.

The day also brings a certification deadline in Wisconsin, where a recount paid for by the Trump campaign wrapped over the weekend brought Biden 87 additional votes.

Nov 30, 9:48 am
Biden rolls out economic team leaders

Biden has formally announced his economic team, including nominee Janet Yellen, who would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, and the first person to have served as Treasury Secretary, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and chair of the Federal Reserve if confirmed.

Neera Tanden, nominated to to lead the Office of Management and Budget, would be the first woman of color in the role, if confirmed.

Here's a breakdown of the economic positions announced Monday:

  • Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury
  • Neera Tanden, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
  • Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
  • Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • Jared Bernstein, member of the Council of Economic Advisers
  • Heather Boushey, member of the Council of Economic Advisers

Nov 30, 8:52 am
Biden transition launches Presidential Inaugural Committee

The Biden transition is launching its Presidential Inaugural Committee, led by Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, to organize activities around his swearing-in on Jan. 20. Several campaign officials including senior adviser Maju Varghese, national political director Eric Wilson and Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela, who also served as a senior adviser, will serve on the committee.

The team announced the following positions on Monday:

  • Tony Allen, Ph.D., chief executive officer
  • Maju Varghese, executive director
  • Erin Wilson, deputy executive director
  • Yvanna Cancela, deputy executive director

“This year's inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe," Allen said in a statement.

The committee says it will work with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) to prioritize keeping people safe in the pandemic while engaging the public in the historic event.

Nov 30, 8:56 am
Deadlines and dead ends pile up losses for Trump

President Donald Trump could not be more clear in what he's looking for -- what he now needs -- to hang on to power.

"It will take a brave judge or a brave legislature," the president said on Fox News Sunday morning.

What Trump is pleading for is as improbable as it is breathtaking. But there appears to be just enough political bravery of a different sort, coming from state and federal judges as well as state lawmakers, to put the presidency where the voters delivered it early in this long month.

The weekend brought an end to Wisconsin's partial recount -- as funded by the Trump campaign -- with Biden actually netting 87 additional votes, in results scheduled to be finalized Monday. The Trump campaign also lost yet another court challenge in Pennsylvania, this time with the state Supreme Court tossing out a challenge to absentee ballots.

Much attention has rightly focused on the unwillingness of Republican members of Congress to state what's obvious -- that Biden won and Trump lost.

But something profound has been happening at other levels of government. Lawmakers and judges from both political parties have rejected the president's increasingly outlandish claims that he should be awarded a second term.

Those claims have expanded even as Trump's losses pile up in courthouses and state houses. It has not been pretty, but the system continues to hold.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Biden fractures foot after fall, will likely be in walking boot 'for several weeks'


(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 51 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern.

Nov 29, 7:46 pm
Biden fractures foot, will require walking boot 'for several weeks'

After initial X-rays were "reassuring," a follow-up CT scan showed that President-elect Joe Biden has hairline fractures in his foot following a fall this weekend, his doctor said.

Biden will likely need to wear a walking boot "for several weeks," Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the director of executive medicine at GW Medical Faculty Associates, said in a statement.

“Initial X-rays did not show any obvious fracture, but his clinical exam warranted more detailed imaging," O'Connor said in a statement. "Follow-up CT scan confirmed hairline (small) fractures of President-elect Biden’s lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, which are in the mid-foot."

Biden fell over the weekend while playing with his dog.

Nov 29, 6:49 pm
Biden sprains foot, X-rays 'reassuring'

President-elect Joe Biden suffered a sprained foot Saturday after slipping while playing with his dog, according to his doctor.

"Initial X-rays are reassuring that there is no obvious fracture and he will be getting an additional CT for more detailed imaging," Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a statement Sunday following the examination at the Delaware Imaging Network facility at the Omega Professional Center in Newark.

Biden slipped while playing with his dog, Major, and twisted his ankle.

Nov 29, 5:08 pm
Biden, Harris announce all-female White House communications staff

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced on Sunday seven top members of the White House senior communications staff, all of whom are female.

Jen Psaki, who served as communications director during the Obama administration and has been working as a spokeswoman for the transition, will be the White House press secretary

Kate Bedingfield, who served as the Biden campaign's communications director, will assume the same title in the White House.

Karine Jean-Pierre, who was a senior advisor to Biden's campaign, will serve as the principal deputy press secretary.

Pili Tobar, who was the Biden campaign's communications director for coalitions, will be the deputy White House communications director.

Other hires announced Sunday include Symone Sanders, a senior campaign adviser, who will be the chief spokeswoman for Harris, Ashley Etienne who will be Harris' communications director, and Elizabeth Alexander, who will be first lady Jill Biden's communications director.

Nov 29, 4:06 pm
Biden twisted ankle while playing with his dog

Biden slipped while playing with his dog Major, and twisted his ankle on Saturday. Out of an abundance of caution, he will be examined this afternoon by an orthopedist.

Nov 29, 2:43 pm
Yellen brilliant, experienced and has 'broad support': ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis

Biden is preparing to roll out the names of people on his economic team and sources have told ABC News that he plans to tap Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary, ABC News White House correspondent Rachel Scott said on This Week Sunday.

"If confirmed, she would be the first woman to hold that job, and she would face a monumental task of not only trying to rebuild the nation's economy but also likely playing a pivotal role in those stalled coronavirus negotiations there on Capitol Hill," Scott told This Week Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

During the "Powerhouse Roundtable" discussion, Raddatz asked ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis about Yellen: "There were several names that were floated. And what do you think it means?"

"Well, Martha, she’s brilliant. She's experienced and has very broad support. The progressives like her but so do Wall Street and corporate America. And she has bipartisan support. She also has a huge task in front of her," Jarvis said, referring to the ongoing pandemic.

"And while President-elect Biden has been calling for more stimulus and additional stimulus plan, that's something she has also been calling for because of the fact that this recovery that we're in the midst of is still on extremely fragile footing," she added.

Nov 29, 12:20 pm
Wisconsin finishes its partial recount

The Wisconsin partial recount of the state’s most heavily Democratic counties, Dane and Milwaukee Counties, has concluded. Milwaukee finished up on Friday while Dane finished up this morning.

Trump received a net gain of 45 votes in Dane County, as Biden lost 91 votes from the original count, while Trump lost 46. The new total from Dane County is 260,094 for Biden and 78,754 for Trump, according to a tweet of the recount paperwork from the Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell.

In total, the results changed by 87 votes in Biden’s favor. That’s less than the margin that the results changed in the 2016 recount -- which was 130 votes -- but about in line, since only two counties were recounted this time.

As Trump said himself in a tweet on Saturday, though, the GOP goal here was not to find missing votes in the recount, but to set up lawsuits they’ll launch against votes cast early and votes cast by “indefinitely confined” voters.

“The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally, and that case will be brought after the recount is over, on Monday or Tuesday. We have found many illegal votes. Stay tuned!,” Trump tweeted yesterday.

Nov 29, 12:12 pm
Suburban votes key to putting Biden over the top: Nate Silver

Before the election, Trump worried publicly about his prospects among suburban voters following a dramatic swing for Democrats in 2018, said ABC's This Week Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

While his win might not have been the landslide Biden was hoping for, one pattern the polls predicted did come true, FiveThirtyEight editor in chief Nate Silver said.

"He did really well in the suburbs."

"Believe it or not, Biden did a tiny bit worse than Hillary Clinton in the city of Philadelphia. He netted about 471,000 votes from it, as compared to 475,000 for her," Silver said while reviewing voting data in Pennsylvania. "But in the four suburban counties in the Philly metro area, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery, Biden improved on Clinton's performance by a combined 105,000 votes.  That's enough to account for his entire margin over Trump in the Keystone State."

In Wisconsin, he said he saw a similar pattern for Biden, where a 25,000 vote improvement relative to Clinton was enough to account for his roughly 20,000 vote overall margin of victory there.

"I don't even need to tell you about Georgia. You can just look at the map to see how much the entire Atlanta metro area has turned blue," he said. "But in the five core counties in the Atlanta metro -- Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb and Clayton -- Biden won by more than 700,000 votes, as compared to 470,000 for Hillary."

Nov 29, 11:50 am
Trump 'will represent thunder at the fringe for years to come'

Though Trump is signaling he will leave the White House despite publicly fighting on, Washington Post opinion columnist Michele Norris said he will remain an important person in the party.

"He's now saying if the Electoral College approves Joe Biden, that he will leave. But will he ever really leave?" she said on ABC's This Week Sunday. "I mean, I think it's safe to assume he'll represent thunder at the fringe for years to come, that he will be an important person in the party, a greatly influential person in the party."

Nov 29, 10:23 am
Biden will have challenge reentering Iran nuclear deal: McRaven

Retired Navy Adm. William McRaven said Sunday that he doesn't think the president-elect can get back into the Iran nuclear deal without some changes.

"There's been a lot of controversy and a lot of folks who don't like the JCPOA and I understand that," McRaven said on ABC's This Week. "But the fact of the matter is the JCPOA, which probably going to give us, you know, 10 to 12 to 15 years before the Iranians could possibly have enriched enough uranium to build bomb."

Complicating matters is Friday's apparent assassination of one of Iran's most prominent scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. While no one has claimed responsibility for the killing, the incident has brought out a full response from Iran's top officials, including the country's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who pointed the finger at Israel.

"Now, of course, by attacking their nuclear scientist, by really escalating this effort, the Iranians I think are going to be more compelled to try to get a bomb quicker. This is going to complicate President Biden's efforts, diplomatic efforts," he told This Week Co-anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday. "Now, again, from the Iranian standpoint, after President Trump pulled out of the JCPOA, I think they are going to be very, very reluctant to get into any agreements with the United States at this point. So, a President Biden will have a difficult challenge on his hand."

Nov 29, 9:32 am
Pa. Supreme Court denies another bid by Trump allies to halt election certification

Another court ruling has gone against allies of the Trump campaign in their bid to halt certification of the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania, as the state's Supreme Court issued an order Saturday dismissing a recent court challenge focused on mail-in voting.

This election challenge was brought by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican, along with another GOP candidate for Congress, alleging that the state legislature had not legally passed the measure allowing for universal mail-in voting.

The plaintiffs called on the court to have Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar cancel all mail-in ballots or, if not, to empower the state legislature to appoint new electors. A trial judge on Tuesday had imposed a temporary injunction to pause the election certification process until the question could be resolved. Boockvar's office brought the matter immediately to the state Supreme Court.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated the injunction on Saturday and dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the GOP cannot bring it back.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Don't want to frighten people, but we may see 'surge upon surge': Fauci


(WASHINGTON) — As the nation braces for what is likely to be the busiest travel day of the year amid a continued nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that he does not foresee current holiday public health restrictions and recommendations being relaxed by the end of the year.

"When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn't all of a sudden turn around like that," said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on ABC's "This Week."

"Clearly in the next few weeks, we're gonna have the same sort of thing," he told "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz, noting that the U.S. "may see a surge upon a surge" of additional new cases due to Thanksgiving gatherings and travel. "We don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality.”

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's encouragement that Americans postpone travel and stay home for Thanksgiving, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 8 million people between Nov. 20 and Saturday. As of Sunday morning, U.S. coronavirus cases surpassed 4 million in the past month, doubling October's previous monthly high. Over 266,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

"We said that these things would happen, as we got into the cold weather and as we began traveling, and they've happened. It's going to happen again." Fauci said on "This Week." "So I cannot see, all of a sudden, a relaxation of the kinds of recommendations or restrictions because we're getting into colder weather, and in -- in an even larger holiday season as people travel to come back and forth for Christmas."

Given the increasing number of cases, Fauci urged Americans Sunday to be "really careful" as they return from Thanksgiving holiday travel, encouraging quarantines and testing.

"If they've been in situations outside of the family setting, in which they really don't know the level of exposure … you've really got to understand the importance of trying to prevent further spread and further surge," he said.

On Friday, the U.S. surpassed 13 million total COVID-19 cases, an increase of more than one million cases in six days, according to data from John Hopkins University. Despite the dire data however, Fauci encouraged optimism about the end of the pandemic when asked by Raddatz about continued restrictions.

"Vaccines are really right on the horizon. We'll be having vaccines available for the higher-priority people towards the middle and end of December and as we get into January and February," he said, echoing forecasts from the government's immunization initiative leaders, while still encouraging social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing, among other interim steps to combat the virus.

The public's willingness to receive that vaccine has been a focus of public health experts in recent weeks, even as pharmaceutical companies like Moderna and Pfizer announce promising test results. Recent polls show as many as two out of five Americans would not agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

On "This Week," Fauci noted that while the government cannot mandate a vaccine, "any individual group," such as businesses and schools could require its receipt, using his employer, the NIH, and its vaccine requirements for employees as an example. He further encouraged the government to engage with local leaders to assist in combating anti-vaccine rhetoric and affirm the inoculation's safety.

"We've got to be able to get out there, get community people -- who the community trusts -- to show two things: The process of the development of this vaccine has been one that has been scientifically sound, safety has not been compromised, scientific integrity has not been compromised. And the process of determining whether it works, whether it's safe and effective has been independent, by independent bodies and transparent," Fauci said.

Raddatz also asked the doctor for his reaction to the Supreme Court's decision last week to strike down New York's pandemic-induced restriction on large religious gatherings -- a controversial ruling at the intersection between personal and religious freedoms and public safety.

"(Legal challenges) happen… there's nothing I can do about it," Fauci said. "I can just say, it doesn't matter who you are, where you are -- when you have congregate settings, particularly indoors, when people are not wearing masks, that is a considerable risk for acquisition and spread of infection. No matter what the circumstance is, that is a risk."

New York was also the setting of a public school shut-down earlier this month as the virus again spread through New York City and its school district, the nation's largest. On Sunday morning the city announced it would reopen its elementary schools amid criticism that the threshold to close them was lower than other public places. With a variety of strategies being employed across the country to keep schools open, Raddatz asked Fauci how he might advise the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden how to formulate a more "unified response."

"We get asked it all the time. You know, we say it -- not being facetiously, as a sound bite or anything -- but, you know, close the bars and keep the schools open is what we really say," he said. "Obviously, you don't have one size fits all. But as I said in the past … the default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school or to get them back to school."

"If you mitigate the things that you know are causing spread in a very, very profound way -- in a robust way -- if you bring that down, you will then indirectly and ultimately protect the children in the school because the community level is determined by how things go across the board," Fauci added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Supreme Court reviews Trump plan to exclude undocumented immigrants in redistricting


(WASHINGTON) — In what could be one of his most politically significant final acts as president, Donald Trump plans to exclude millions of undocumented immigrants from the official 2020 Census figures used to allocate political power and billions of dollars in federal funds.

But first, the U.S. Supreme Court has to sign off.

The justices on Monday will hear oral arguments over Trump's effort -- already twice rejected by lower federal courts -- that would break from more than a century of precedent in determining apportionment of the 435 congressional districts across all 50 states.

If successful, it would boost the influence of predominantly conservative, Republican states and rural communities while drawing resources away from more liberal, Democratic states and urban areas.

The Constitution requires an "actual enumeration" be performed every 10 years to account for changes in population and that decennial redistricting be based on "the whole number of persons in each state," regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

Since taking office, Trump has sought to minimize the influence of non-citizens in American politics by sidelining them from the count.

After the Supreme Court in 2019 blocked his attempt to add an explicit citizenship question to the census form, Trump directed the Census Bureau to rely on existing government data to derive a total of undocumented immigrants in each state -- and then subtract that figure from the overall sum.

"For the purpose of the reapportionment of representatives following the 2020 census, it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status," Trump wrote in a July memorandum.

A coalition of 20 states, led by New York, 10 cities, five counties and a handful immigrant advocacy groups immediately challenged the move. They called Trump's plan a clear violation of the Constitution and an "arbitrary and capricious" decision that breached federal law governing administrative procedures.

In legal briefs, the parties cite an "unbroken historical and legislative practice" spanning more than 200 years of the Census Bureau counting "millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived here for decades, intend to remain and will in fact stay ... (as) usual residents under traditional criteria."

In September, a three-judge panel in New York sided with the states against Trump, calling the issue "not particularly close or complicated." Last month, a separate panel of judges in California also dealt a blow to the administration, saying "It seeks to do what Congress has not authorized and what the President does not have the power to do."

An estimated 10.5 million immigrants living in the U.S. do not have legal status, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Pew found a majority of those immigrants live in just six states -- California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois -- with the largest populations concentrated around major metropolitan areas.

Excluding those communities from the census total used for congressional apportionment would mean reduced representation in Congress and fewer federal funds for everything from health care to education and infrastructure programs.

California, Florida and Texas would each receive at least one less seat in the U.S. House than they otherwise would have if Trump's plan moves forward, according to a Pew analysis from July.

Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio would each gain a seat that they would have otherwise lost due to population changes, the group estimates.

Just 10 days before he's due to leave office -- on Jan. 10, 2021 -- Trump is required by law to advise Congress on the outcome of the 2020 Census and how many representatives each state should receive.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision before that date.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump-Biden transition live updates: Resolution in Pennsylvania disputes election results


(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 53 days.

Top headlines:

  • Vice President-elect Harris in DC for Small Business Saturday
  • Pennsylvania House legislature introduces resolution to dispute election results
  • Trump legal team announces hearing in Arizona
  • Biden gains 132-vote margin in Milwaukee County recount

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern.

Nov 28, 5:05 pm
Biden transition team names three new members to COVID-19 advisory board

Biden and his transition team have announced three new members of their COVID-19 advisory board.

Biden and Harris launch transition COVID-19 advisory board
After facing criticism for not having any current nurses on the advisory board, the new additions are Jane Hopkins, a registered nurse trained in mental health; Jill Jim, who is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and the executive director of the Navajo Nation Department of Health; and David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor at George Washington University.

This brings the total number of members on the coronavirus advisory board to 16.

“As COVID-19 surges across the country, I need a team advising me and a transition that offers diverse perspectives and viewpoints,” Biden wrote in a statement. “Ms. Hopkins, Dr. Jim, and Dr. Michaels will strengthen the board’s work and help ensure that our COVID-19 planning will address inequities in health outcomes and the workforce.”

The COVID-19 advisory board will help shape the approach to managing the current surge in coronavirus infections as well as ensuring an eventual vaccine is safe and effective, according to Biden’s transition team.

-ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson

Nov 28, 1:59 pm

Vice President-elect Harris in DC for Small Business Saturday

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, her husband Doug Emhoff and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser visited a holiday market in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of D.C. for Small Business Saturday.

Harris appeared to be wearing two masks and chatted with a couple of vendors, at one point stopping at a stand and holding up a T-shirt that read “Madam Vice President,” prompting the crowd to cheer.

Harris bought two puzzles at the New York Puzzle Company, which Emhoff paid for as the merchant took a photo of her through the plexiglass barrier.

At Marcella Kriebel Art and Illustration, she eyed a print of different types of coffee. Instead, she picked a print of different kinds of cheeses, while Emhoff bought the “Madam Vice President” T-shirt.

She stopped to greet shoppers before speaking with reporters. “We’re here with the great mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser, to celebrate the small businesses that are here, but to celebrate small businesses all over our country. They’re suffering,” she said.

“They are always really part of -- an essential part of the lifeblood of a community, part of the civic and social fabric of a community and, sadly, since COVID started, one in four small businesses in our country has closed,” she added.

Biden tweeted Saturday, “Small businesses are the backbone of communities across the country — and amid the pandemic, they need our help more than ever. Today, and every day, support your neighbors and strengthen your community by shopping small. #SmallBusinessSaturday.”

When asked about Trump and Vice President Pence not participating in the transition, Harris deflected and focused on how she and Biden are going to assist small-businesses during the pandemic.

“We -- and the American people deserve that the incoming administration focuses on what’s important and what is important is getting a handle on this virus, opening back up our small businesses and -- and focusing on -- on the experts in all areas,” she said.

Harris was asked about reports that Trump has expressed a desire to run for president in 2024 and scoffed at the notion.

“Please,” she said, laughing.

-ABC News’ Averi Harper

Nov 28, 12:21 pm

Pennsylvania House legislature introduces resolution to dispute election results

On Friday, the Pennsylvania House legislature introduced a resolution that disputes the statewide 2020 election results.

With the Pennsylvania legislative session ending Monday, the move is likely to be vetoed by Democratic Gov Tom Wolf even if it were to move quickly through the state government.

The resolution would also put the state’s Republican majority in jeopardy as it would threaten to invalidate the outcome of several GOP victories.

Saturday morning, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano -- who Trump has taken to retweeting recently -- added to the state Republican voices attempting to challenge the outcome of the election in a series of tweets. Without citing any proof, Mastriano claimed, “there is mounting evidence that the PA presidential election was compromised.”

“If this is the case, under Article II, Section 1.2 of the US Constitution, the state legislature has the sole authority to direct the manner of selecting delegates to the Electoral College,” he said in one of his tweets.

“Therefore, we are introducing a Resolution to exercise our obligation and authority to appoint delegates to the Electoral College,” he said.

Twitter has stamped his tweets with, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

-ABC News’ Alisa Wiersema

Nov 28, 11:46 am

Trump legal team announces hearing in Arizona

As President Trump’s legal team continues to look to state legislatures to overturn election results, Trump Campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis tweeted on Friday an event invitation to a Monday hearing with members of the Arizona Legislature on election integrity.

Ellis announced that she and Trump Attorney Rudy Guiliani will be “present from DC,” along with members of the Arizona Legislature.

“Arizona State Legislature to hold hearing on election integrity Monday, November 30. Mayor @RudyGiuliani and I will be present on behalf of President @realDonaldTrump,” she tweeted

The hearing is being held from a Phoenix Hyatt Hotel rather than from the state capitol.

The event description falsely claims, “...State Legislatures have the sole authority to select their representatives to the Electoral College.”

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and Republican members of the state legislature have publicly shot down those claims.

Trump’s legal team held a similar hearing with Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, after the Trump campaign touted upcoming state legislature public hearings in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan. The president phoned in to baselessly say he believes the outcome of the 2020 election should be overturned and that he was “cheated” out of a victory.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Guiliani presented a series of witnesses with claims of what they believed to be election irregularities in Pennsylvania.

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania’s secretary of state called the claims “tired conspiracy theories” that have been “debunked and dismissed by the courts.”

Shortly after the Trump Campaign announced a similar hearing in Michigan, Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield told ABC News the House Oversight Committee would not meet for a hearing on the election.

-ABC News’ Will Steakin, Olivia Rubin, Meg Cunningham, Matthew Mosk and Alex Hosenball

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump-Biden transition live updates: Trump campaign loses appeal in federal case


(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 54 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Nov 27, 1:23 pm
New lawsuit by conspiracy minded Trump ally Sidney Powell seeks to nix Georgia election results

Sidney Powell, the attorney recently removed from the president's legal team, filed a lawsuit in Georgia this week alleging, without evidence, a vast conspiracy against Trump built on unproven claims of numerous instances of voter fraud in the state.

The 104-page suit, filed in the U.S District Court in Atlanta on behalf of Trump electors and Republican officials, among others, is demanding numerous longshot remedies, including decertifying the state's election results, preventing the results from being transmitted to the electoral college and disqualifying Biden's electors in favor of Trump's electors.

"While the bedrock of American elections has been transparency, almost every crucial aspect of Georgia’s November 3, 2020, General Election was shrouded in secrecy, rife with 'errors,' and permeated with anomalies so egregious as to render the results incapable of certification," the suit states. "Accordingly, the results for President and Congress in the November 3, 2020 election must be set aside. The results are infected with Constitutional violations."

Biden won the state of Georgia by more than 12,000 votes, a victory confirmed by a hand tally last week. State elections officials also began a machine recount at the request of Trump’s team, permitted because he lost by less than 0.5 percentage points.

Like many suits before it, Powell’s case relies on affidavits from various poll watchers, audit watchers and self-described experts who claim, without documentation or supporting evidence, that they witnessed a wide range of fraudulent activity, including switching votes from Biden to Trump, counting illegal votes and shutting observers out of the process.

The suit rests heavily on a debunked conspiracy theory that has been trafficked widely on the internet which blames the Dominion Voting Systems for secretly flipping thousands of votes from Trump to Biden. Veteran elections officials from both parties have refuted the claim, as did the Trump administration’s own cybersecurity expert.

Dominion released a lengthy statement Friday rebutting the claims in the lawsuit -- calling it "a bizarre election fraud conspiracy that -- were it possible --would necessarily require the collaboration of thousands of participants… This quite simply did not occur."

"Sidney Powell's wild and reckless allegations are not only demonstrably false, but they have also led to stalking, harassment, and death threats to Dominion employees," the Dominion statement says. "We intend to hold Ms. Powell, and those aiding and abetting her fraudulent actions, accountable for any harm that may occur as a result."
Other conspiracy theories cited in the lawsuit as "evidence" include an affidavit from a man who claims he went undercover in Antifa and overheard a top Dominion official talking about rigging the election. The lawsuit also claims, with no evidence, that a water pipe burst on election night, which briefly delayed the counting of ballots, was part of a conspiracy to prevent Trump poll watchers from seeing them process ballots.
-ABC News’ Olivia Rubin

Nov 27, 1:15 pm
Trump campaign loses appeal in federal case

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the Trump campaign’s appeal of a scathing U.S. District Court ruling out of Pennsylvania in which the campaign’s request to set aside potentially thousands of legally cast ballots was refused.

The opinion was just as blistering as the one that preceded it.

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” said the opinion from a three-judge panel authored by Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee.

Nov 27, 12:24 pm
Without evidence, Trump disputes Biden's popular vote lead

Despite telling reporters Thursday that he would leave the White House if Biden is inaugurated, while still not conceding, Trump continued on Friday to baselessly cast doubt on the president-elect's record-breaking popular vote lead.

In a tweet Friday morning, Trump wrote, "Biden can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous "80,000,000 votes" were not fraudulently or illegally obtained" and went on to allege -- without citing any proof -- that Biden "got a big unsolvable problem!"

As reported previously by ABC News, the Trump campaign and its allies have lost at least 30 cases brought in the effort to overturn the results of the election, according to an ABC News count.

Biden won the Electoral College by the same margin as Trump did in 2016 and leads in the popular vote by over 80 million votes.

-ABC News’ Alisa Wiersema

Nov 27, 11:49 am
Progressives worry about lobbying, corporate ties in Biden administration

Several leading candidates for the roles in president-elect Joe Biden’s administration have (come under scrutiny)[] for their work in corporate America or lobbying history.

Michele Flournoy, a leading candidate for the head of the Department of Defense after serving in senior posts at the Pentagon during the Clinton and Obama administrations, has faced criticism from progressive and left-leaning activists for her ties to defense contractors and a strategic advisory firm that has faced questions about its clients.

Several other Cabinet selections and initial White House hires for the Biden administration, along with members of his transition efforts, are under the microscope as well, showing an early struggle between the activist and established wings of the Democratic Party, which collaborated to elect Biden and deny President Donald Trump a second term.

-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel and Soo Rin Kim

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Progressives worry about lobbying, corporate ties in Biden administration


(WASHINGTON) -- When President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his national security team on Tuesday, there were several noticeable absences, including a nominee to lead the Department of Defense.

Michele Flournoy, a leading candidate for the role who served in senior posts at the Pentagon during the Clinton and Obama administrations, has faced criticism from progressives and left-leaning activists for her ties to defense contractors and a strategic advisory firm that has faced questions about its clients.

She's not the only one. Several of Biden's Cabinet selections and initial White House hires, along with members of his transition efforts, have also come under scrutiny for their work in corporate America or lobbying history.

The wrangling over the composition of Biden's administration is one of the earliest flashpoints between the activist and establishment wings of the Democratic Party after their cooperation and collaboration to elect Biden and deny President Donald Trump a second term.

"It's a mixed bag so far, but it's extremely early," Jeff Hauser, the founder and director of the Revolving Door Project, a liberal advocacy group, said of Biden's incoming administration.

Progressive groups have also put forward their own suggested list of 400-plus senior administration appointees, a group that doesn't inclu de individuals with corporate or lobbying histories.

ABC News reached out to the Biden transition team for comment Wednesday, but did not receive a response to questions.

The Biden administration

Steve Ricchetti, a longtime Biden aide who will serve as counselor in the White House, is a former lobbyist who spent a dozen years working for health care and pharmaceutical companies in between stints in the Clinton and Obama White Houses.

Biden named Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., a senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement. It's a move the Sunrise Movement, a leading group of young climate activists, called a "betrayal," pointing to Richmond's ties to the energy industry, which has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his congressional campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

"That's a mistake and it's an affront to young people who made President-Elect Biden's victory possible. President-Elect Biden assured our movement he understands the urgency of this crisis; now, it's time for him to act like it," Varshini Prakash, the group's executive director, said in a statement.

While Biden is expected to name former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen his nominee for treasury secretary -- a pick praised by prominent Democrats across the party spectrum -- he has yet to fill out the rest of his economic team -- including critical positions leading the White House budget office and the National Economic Council.

On Monday, Biden announced his selection of Antony Blinken, another close adviser since his time in the Senate, as nominee for secretary of state.

Blinken, together with Flournoy, founded WestExec Advisors, a "strategic advisory firm" that doesn't disclose its clients, after leaving the Obama administration and ahead of Biden's 2020 campaign.

Good government advocates who have raised questions about the structure of the organization -- which, unlike lobbying shops, does not have to register with the government -- expect Blinken's work with the firm to be a point of contention in his confirmation hearings.

"It's important to get clarification on what the work was and if any of it would be in conflict with what their work is going to be in public service," Mandy Smithberger of the Project on Government Oversight told ABC News.

Flournoy's work for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that contracts with the Pentagon, could also be a roadblock on Capitol Hill, should she be nominated by Biden. Prominent progressive lawmakers have already called on Biden to select a Pentagon chief without ties to defense contractors.

The transition effort

Biden's 500-person transition team, which began communicating with government agencies to facilitate the transfer of power as of Monday evening, includes at least 40 people who are current and former registered lobbyists, according to an ABC News' analysis of federal lobbying records.

Several of them are representatives of various labor unions, environmental groups or other nonprofit civic organizations, while some others have lobbied on behalf of corporate and business interests, like pharmaceutical companies or energy groups.

Hauser, the director of the Revolving Door Project, has been calling on Biden's team to avoid enlisting both lobbyists and what he refers to as "shadow lobbyists," or people who work in corporate jobs to influence policy, but don't meet the threshold to formally register as lobbyists.

He pointed to Jessica Hertz, a senior Facebook attorney who worked on regulatory issues, who now serves as the Biden transition's general counsel, along with several members of the agency review team for the Office of Management and Budget who have worked for Lyft, Amazon, AirBnb and WestExec Advisors.

Lobbyists, including any who have registered within the past year -- must be approved by the transition's legal team. Members of the team must also seek approval if they have represented or advised any foreign governments or political parties within the past year -- and are prohibited from working with any foreign parties or governments for an additional year after the transition.

Over the last four years, Trump has come under fire for flouting his own ethics rule after having promised to "drain the swamp" in Washington.

During his first week in office, Trump issued an executive order requiring all administration appointees to sign an ethics pledge that they will not participate in any matter related to their former employer or former clients, and to not lobby the agencies that they had worked in for five years after leaving the government, a stricter set of rules put in place by President Barack Obama in 2008.

But within the first two months of taking office, the Trump administration issued at least 16 ethics waivers to allow staff members to work in the White House while going around the ethics rules -- reportedly more than five times the number granted in the first four months of the Obama administration. And over the years, several other former members of the Trump administration have been found lobbying or representing private interests that they pledged not to represent for at least five years.

While the Biden administration's ethics rules won't be released until January, when he takes office, Hauser and other transparency advocates are hoping to see guidelines in place that both prevent registered lobbyists from working in the administration and provide clearer guidelines to limit the cycling of shadow lobbyists in and out of the administration.

"Part of building back better is having a government that is ethical in its conduct," Smithberger said. "If this administration skirts these rules, I don't think that they are fulfilling their promise to the American people."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump-Biden transition updates: Trump says he'll leave WH if Biden inaugurated


(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 55 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Nov 26, 8:59 pm
Pence thanks frontline workers in Thanksgiving tweet

Vice President Mike Pence shared a message of gratitude on Thanksgiving to first responders, military members and health care workers.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we’re thankful for our Family, Friends & the Doctors, Nurses, First Responders & Men & Women of our Armed Forces that we’ve met along the way. God Bless our Healthcare Workers & our Military, especially those deployed overseas Defending Our Freedom! 🦃🇺🇸

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) November 26, 2020

“On this Thanksgiving Day, we’re thankful for our Family, Friends & the Doctors, Nurses, First Responders & Men & Women of our Armed Forces that we’ve met along the way. God Bless our Healthcare Workers & our Military, especially those deployed overseas Defending Our Freedom!” he tweeted.

In a message earlier Thursday, the Pence family wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving on behalf of the vice president and second lady Karen Pence.

Nov 26, 6:37 pm
Trump takes first questions since Biden declared victory

After wrapping his teleconference with troops, Trump spoke with reporters. It was the first time he's answered questions since Biden declared victory.
The president delivered a lengthy list of grievances and unfounded claims of election fraud across the country.
"It's going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud," Trump said.
The president provided no direct evidence of fraud while claiming irregularities in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin skewed the results in Biden's favor.  He also, again, went after Dominion Voting Systems.

When asked whether he would announce a run in 2024 if Biden occupies the White House on Jan. 20, the president said, "I don't want to talk about 2024."

Asked if he would leave the White House if Biden is inaugurated, Trump responded, "Certainly, I will. And you know that."
He was also asked whether he would attend Biden's inauguration as tradition dictates.

"I don't want to say that yet. I know the answer, I'll be honest, I know the answer but I just don't want to say it yet," he said.

Nov 26, 6:34 pm
Trump touts stock market, vaccine timeline in teleconference with troops

Trump spoke to military troops via video conference on Thursday from the Diplomatic Room of the White House.
"My profound thanks to each and every one of you for your devoted service to our nation. Our nation is doing very well. It's the highest honor of my life to serve as your commander in chief," he said, reading from a binder.

He veered off his prepared remarks from time to time to pat himself on the back for ensuring the U.S. did not get involved in any wars during his four years in office and ad-libbed some self-congratulatory remarks about the stock market and vaccine development -- saying the vaccine will be delivered to frontline workers starting next week or the week after next.

"You're doing an incredible job and your country is doing well," he said to the service members, which represented the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard.

The president also took some questions from reporters and said he would "probably" visit Georgia on Saturday to campaign for the Republican senators who face runoff elections. Trump said it would "most likely be at an airport."

Following the event, the White House indicated that the trip to Georgia would likely occur on Dec. 5.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump visited his golf course in Virginia.

Nov 26, 4:16 pm
Bidens speak to front line workers on Thanksgiving

President-elect Biden and the future first lady Jill Biden spent some time on Thanksgiving virtually talking to front line workers, according to a tweet.

Jill and I were honored today to talk to some of the heroes on the front lines of this crisis. We’re thankful today and every day for the nurses and firefighters who sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe. We see the very best of America in your courage and selflessness.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 26, 2020

“Jill and I were honored today to talk to some of the heroes on the front lines of this crisis,” Joe Biden wrote. “We’re thankful today and every day for the nurses and firefighters who sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe. We see the very best of America in your courage and selflessness.”

In a message earlier Thursday, the Bidens said they were celebrating a pared-down Thanksgiving this year and foregoing their traditional large family gathering amid the pandemic.

Nov 26, 5:01 pm
Perdue and Loeffler share Thanksgiving messages

Georgia’s incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler shared Thanksgiving messages via Twitter Thursday.

Perdue said he was “especially grateful” for military service members, first responders and health care workers this year.

This #Thanksgiving, Bonnie and I are especially grateful for our brave military men and women, first responders, law enforcement and health care workers. Please join us in praying for them as they serve our state and country.

— David Perdue (@sendavidperdue) November 26, 2020

“Please join us in praying for them as they serve our state and country,” he wrote.

Loeffler shared a video reflecting on the tumultuous past year.

“Though it’s been a year unlike any other we have so much to be grateful for, today and every day, I am thankful for the American dream,” she said. “I was blessed to have the opportunity to live the American dream.”

Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃

— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) November 26, 2020

“Only in America are these stories possible, and I’m going to continue to fight for that,” she added.

Perdue and Loeffler are locked in runoffs against Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff that will decide which party controls the Senate.

Nov 26, 3:10 pm
Pelosi thanks military service members in Thanksgiving tweet

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., shared a message on Twitter to thank military service members on Thanksgiving.

As many celebrate virtually during this extraordinarily challenging time, we take a moment to give thanks for our brave servicemembers around the world protecting our nation.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) November 26, 2020

“As many celebrate virtually during this extraordinarily challenging time, we take a moment to give thanks for our brave servicemembers around the world protecting our nation,” Pelosi wrote.

Nov 26, 2:44 pm
McConnell shares what he’s grateful for in Thanksgiving message

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shared a video message via Twitter wishing Americans a happy Thanksgiving on Thursday.

We are blessed to live in the greatest country the world has ever known. Even in a trying year unlike anything we’ve seen before, we are constantly reminded why. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) November 26, 2020

“Even in difficult times, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on our blessings,” McConnell said, expressing his gratitude to military service members, health care workers and Kentucky “communities who are standing together even if they are six feet apart.”

“So, as we enjoy restful moments this holiday season, let’s keep in our hearts all the families who have lost loved ones or livelihoods this year, and let’s give thanks for the many blessings we’re so fortunate to count as our own,” he added.

Nov 26, 1:41 pm
Georgia Senate candidates Warnock and Ossoff spend Thanksgiving volunteering

Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff on Thursday participated in a food giveaway event at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Warnock and Ossoff are locked in runoffs in January with incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Purdue. The runoffs will decide which party controls the Senate.

Nov 26, 12:15 pm
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris shares Thanksgiving message

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wished Americans a happy Thanksgiving via Twitter Thursday, sharing a photo with her husband, Doug Emhoff.

“Like families across America, our Thanksgiving looks different this year. But I am incredibly grateful for the ability to stay virtually connected to our loved ones so we can get this virus under control,” Harris wrote.

Like families across America, our Thanksgiving looks different this year. But I am incredibly grateful for the ability to stay virtually connected to our loved ones so we can get this virus under control.

From @DouglasEmhoff and I, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 26, 2020

Nov 26, 9:55 am
Joe and Jill Biden urge Americans to stay home, honor front-line workers in Thanksgiving message

In a new video posted to Twitter, President-elect Joe Biden and future first lady Jill Biden talk about their altered Thanksgiving, reminding Americans that while celebrations may be more isolated this year, they are helping keep Americans safe.

“We have a long tradition of traveling to Nantucket with our big family, a large family, every Thanksgiving. We won't be doing that this year. This year we're going to be staying in Delaware, with just a small group around at our dinner table,” the president-elect said. “I know this isn't the way many of us hoped we'd spend our holiday. We know that a small act of staying home is a gift to our fellow Americans.”

He continued: “Yes, it's a personal sacrifice that each of our families can make and should make to save somebody else's life. But it's also a shared sacrifice for the whole country, a statement of common purpose that says we care about one another and we're all in this together.”

The future first lady added that this year, “We’re thankful for the millions of Americans who have been working on the front lines throughout this pandemic.”

Thanksgiving has always been a special time for the Biden family. And while I know this isn’t the way many of us hoped to spend the holiday, the small act of staying home is a gift to our fellow Americans.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 26, 2020

Jill Biden also spoke directly to families who have lost a loved one to the pandemic this year, noting her own family's understanding of the “empty chair” at the table.

“Joe and I know the pain of that empty chair,” she said. “If you are one of those families, please know that our hearts are with you and that you know that you aren't alone.”

Finally, Joe Biden urged Americans to come together this holiday.

“We might not be able to join our hands around a table with our loved ones, we can come together as a nation,” he said.

Joe and Jill Biden also penned an op-ed for CNN about the holiday and how this year’s celebration requires large sacrifices to keep the country safe.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

President Trump pardons Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesBy MARK OSBORNE and ALEXANDER MALLIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday he has pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

"It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," he wrote. "Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!"

It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon. Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2020

Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before seeking to withdraw his plea early this year, alleging misconduct against the agents who investigated him.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called Flynn "an innocent man" three times in a statement, saying he never should've been prosecuted. She did not mention Flynn twice pleading guilty or releasing a statement Dec. 1, 2017, admitting to the crimes and saying "through my faith in God, I am working to set things right" and that he was accepting "full responsibility for my actions."

"The President has pardoned General Flynn because he should never have been prosecuted," McEnany said in a statement. "An independent review of General Flynn’s case by the Department of Justice -- conducted by respected career professionals -- supports this conclusion. In fact, the Department of Justice has firmly concluded that the charges against General Flynn should be dropped. This Full Pardon achieves that objective, finally bringing to an end the relentless, partisan pursuit of an innocent man."

Attorneys for Flynn and the Department of Justice had a court hearing on Sept. 29 as they continued to push to have Flynn's guilty plea tossed out.

Former judge John Gleeson, the court-appointed "amicus," ripped into the Justice Department in a June filing, arguing its move to drop the charges against Flynn was part of a political effort to benefit Trump's personal ally.

"In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty -- twice, before two different judges -- and whose guilt is obvious," Gleeson said. "There is clear evidence that this motion reflects a corrupt and politically motivated favor unworthy of our justice system."

Acting principal assistant U.S. attorney Kenneth Kohl argued that was not the case.

"The allegations against our office that we would somehow operate, or act with a corrupt political motive just are not true," Kohl said less than two months ago.

The pardon Wednesday, which had been rumored in recent weeks, puts an end to the back-and-forth court cases.

A DOJ official said "the department was not consulted," but they "were given a heads up today."

"We would have preferred to see if Judge Sullivan would act and for the matter to be resolved in court," the official said. "We were confident in the likelihood of our success in the case."

But, the official added, it "is obviously an appropriate use of the president's pardon power."

Trump's pardon drew immediate derision from Democrats, with Rep. Adam Schiff even calling it "crooked."

"Donald Trump has abused the pardon power to reward his friends and political allies, and protect those who lie to cover up for him," Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. "This time, Trump has once again abused the pardon power to reward Michael Flynn, who chose loyalty to Trump over loyalty to his country."

"It's no surprise that Trump would go out just as he came in -- crooked to the end," he added.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., offered similar criticism.

"This pardon is undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy," the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said in a statement.

"This pardon is part of a pattern," he continued. "We saw it before, in the Roger Stone case -- where President Trump granted clemency to protect an individual who might have implicated the President in criminal misconduct. We may see it again before President Trump finally leaves office. These actions are an abuse of power and fundamentally undermine the rule of law."

Flynn, a key adviser on Trump's 2016 campaign, was named the president's first national security adviser on Nov. 18, 2016. He was sworn in two days after Trump's inauguration.

Just four days after his swearing in, the Department of Justice's then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House counsel Don McGahn that they were misled and expressed concerns that Russia might try to blackmail Flynn. ABC News confirmed through a source close to Yates that the U.S. captured a phone call between Flynn and Kislyak discussing sanctions leveled by then-President Barack Obama in late 2016.

Flynn resigned on Feb. 13, after less than a month in the position, after he admitted in a letter that he misled then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence about the nature of his calls with the Russian ambassador.

"Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador," Flynn's letter read. "I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

DOJ files appeal in E. Jean Carroll lawsuit against President Trump

robertcicchetti/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Wednesday as it seeks to intervene in the defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump by E. Jean Carroll.

Last month, a federal judge in New York rejected the Justice Department's attempt to substitute for Trump as the defendant in a suit that claimed he defamed Carroll when he accused her of lying about an alleged rape in a department store dressing room.

The DOJ had argued that Trump made his allegedly defamatory denials of Carroll's rape accusations while acting in his official capacity as president.

"The president of the United States is not an 'employee of the government' within the meaning of the relevant statutes," Judge Kaplan wrote in his ruling last month. "Even if he were such an 'employee,' President Trump's allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment."

"We are not at all surprised that the current Department of Justice, which filed its motion to intervene in E Jean Carroll's case at the request of the White House, is appealing Judge Kaplan's decision. From the very start of this case, Donald Trump's number one goal has been to avoid discovery and cause delay. It remains to be seen whether the new Attorney General will agree that Trump was acting within the scope of his employment as President when he defamed our client. In any event, we are confident that the Second Circuit will affirm the District Court's comprehensive and well-reasoned opinion," Roberta Kaplan, Carroll's attorney with no relation to Judge Kaplan, told ABC News in a statement.

The Justice Department will appeal to the 2nd Circuit.

Carroll sued Trump in 2019, accusing him of defaming her with his denials.

In the mid-1990s Carroll said she and Trump were in the lingerie department, where, according to the complaint, Trump insisted that she try on a bodysuit. Carroll alleged that what she first perceived as playful banter took a dark turn when Trump closed the door of a dressing room, pushed her against a wall and began kissing her without her consent. She then claimed he pressed her against the wall once more, pulled down her tights and forcibly raped her for several minutes until she managed to push him off and flee the store.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dialing into Pennsylvania GOP meeting, Trump shows no sign of concession

Official Whte House Photo by Joyce N. BoghosianBy MATTHEW MOSK, ALEX HOSENBALL and OLIVIA RUBIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump phoned into a meeting of Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to say he believes he was "cheated" out of a victory in the 2020 election and the outcome should be turned over.

"This was an election that we won easily. We won it by a lot," Trump said to the lawmakers and Republican supporters in the ballroom of a Gettysburg hotel. "Very sad to say it -- this election was rigged and we can't let that happen. We can't let it happen for our country. This election has to be turned around."

Trump has made few appearances since the election and the phone call represents some of the most direct remarks he has made about his desire to see the results of the contest reversed.

His claims have been widely debunked by elections officials from both parties and in a series of court challenges that ended in defeat for the Trump campaign. Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 election by more than six million votes, and by the identical Electoral College margin that Trump amassed in 2016.

Trump's comments came near the conclusion of a lengthy presentation by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who introduced a series of witnesses -- some in person and some over video conference -- who shared stories of what they believed were election oddities and irregularities.

A spokesperson for Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar called the claims "tired conspiracy theories" that have been "debunked and dismissed by the courts."

"Continuing to repeat these falsehoods in front of the cameras only harms the democracy that so many Americans have died to protect," the spokeswoman said.

The Biden campaign declined to respond to the president's comments, referring reporters to an earlier statement that called Trump's reaction "a sideshow."

"Look, the election is over, virtually everyone on Earth has accepted that truth except for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the Trump campaign has been laughed out of every courtroom, with their meritless and baseless lawsuits meant to undermine the will of the American people," spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said.

Trump had considered flying to Gettysburg to appear at the GOP event in person, but shortly before the meeting was scheduled to begin, reporters were told there would be no trip. At one point after the meeting was underway, Trump could be overheard on a speaker phone held by another of his lawyers, Jenna Ellis, providing direction to Giuliani.

When he addressed the group by phone, Trump said the anecdotes presented at the caucus meeting represent only a small fraction of the sworn statements his legal team has collected.

"We have to turn the election over," Trump re-iterated. "All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly without having a political opinion or having another kind of problem."

Much of the hearing and most of the witness testimony focused on allegations that Republican poll observers had been forced to stand too far away from the ballot-counting process to determine if the ballots were legally cast.

"If you were a Republican poll watcher you were treated like a dog," Trump said. "But the Democrats had no problems. They were rough. They were literally pushed out."

Over the past three weeks, the Trump campaign mounted a legal challenge making that allegation, but the Pennsylvania courts ultimately rejected them. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against the Trump campaign's claims that poll watchers were not close enough to "meaningfully observe" the vote count.

In a vote of 5-2, the court found that elections officials followed the law in providing the Trump campaign sufficient access to the poll workers who were opening mail-in ballots. There are simply no requirements that say how close the observers need to be placed to watch the process, the court found.

"These provisions do not set a minimum distance" for observers to watch the process, Justice Debra Todd wrote for the majority. "The General Assembly, had it so desired, could have easily established such parameters; however, it did not."

And even those dissenting were not partial to the Trump campaign argument. In his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor wrote that the campaign's request to cancel large numbers of ballots "based on isolated procedural irregularities" was "misguided."

During his comments Wednesday, the president confirmed earlier reports that he has had difficulty securing a lawyer to take on the effort to contest the election.

"There are other lawyers that backed down because they were being screamed at," Trump said in praising the loyalty of Giuliani. "I told him the other day, Rudy, you were the greatest mayor … but what you're doing now is far more important. This is going to be your crowning achievement because you're saving our country."

During his presentation, Giuliani repeated other arguments that have also been swiftly dismissed by the courts -- including the claim that the election should be invalidated because voters in Republican-majority counties were treated differently than those in Democratic-majority jurisdictions. A federal ruling stated those claims were "without merit."

"This Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence," Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote. "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. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more."

That case is now on appeal.

Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia lawyer who argued the case against Giuliani, said he will wait to hear what the appeals court says before he can declare any sort of victory in the legal battle.

"I will say from the rooftops that the American public should be immensely proud that we have an independent judiciary," Aronchick said. "We operate under the rule of law, and not the rule of the soapbox from the driveway of Four Seasons Total Landscaping."

The Republican lawmakers who hosted Wednesday's caucus meeting said they were eager to find a way to fix what they considered to be significant problems with the 2020 election. Giuliani urged them to find a way to invalidate the mail-in ballots.

"This election, the numbers don't add up," Giuliani said. "Count the honest votes and the winner of this election changes."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump-Biden transition updates: Biden gives Thanksgiving address


(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is slated to hand over control of the White House to President-elect Joe Biden in 56 days.

Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:

Nov 25, 9:03 pm
GOP has to move back toward 'policies and ideas': Riggleman

Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., said on ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast that the Republican Party has to move back toward "policies and ideas" and away from conspiracy theories like those about the election.

"I think it's fear of the electorate and the base and maybe those few points that could cost him a primary, not get them reelected or maybe somebody is going to say something mean about them on Twitter," Riggleman said on the podcast.

Riggleman was one of the first Republicans to publicly accept Joe Biden as the president-elect and told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein that fear of the base was keeping other elected officials from doing the same.

Nov 25, 7:45 pm
Nev. governor signs certificate of ascertainment, gives Biden electors

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak tweeted Wednesday evening that he signed the certificate of ascertainment, giving Biden electors the highest number of votes.

"Today, I signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, as required by federal law," he tweeted, along with photos of the certificates. "I want to thank all the election officials and poll workers who helped facilitate this process in our State."

He then went on to congratulate those who participated in the democratic process.

On Tuesday the Nevada Supreme Court certified the election results.

Nov 25, 4:37 pm
Kamala Harris stops by DC nonprofit to thank volunteers

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris visited the nonprofit D.C. Central Kitchen with her husband, Doug Emhoff, Wednesday afternoon to thank the staff and volunteers for the work that they were doing. They also passed out individually wrapped cookies.

The nonprofit, which aims to prepare people in need for culinary careers, expects to serve 10,000 meals for the Thanksgiving holiday. Harris also spoke briefly about food insecurity in the U.S.

"Right now in our country, one in six families are describing their children being hungry. One in five, the last number I saw, can't pay their rent," the vice president-elect said.

She also spoke about the pandemic, and the isolation many people are feeling "on top of being food insecure."

"So, to do what you all are doing reminds people that they're not alone," she told the volunteers. "And that's a great gift that you give as well. So, Doug and I wanted to come by just to thank you all, everybody, for what you're doing, and for lifting everybody up."

Harris also took questions, and said that she had not yet spoken to Vice President Mike Pence, but wouldn't answer directly when asked if she had spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Finally, Harris shared that she and her husband would be spending Thanksgiving in Washington without members of their extended family.

Nov 25, 4:33 pm
Trump announces pardon for Michael Flynn

Trump announced via Twitter that Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser, has been granted a full pardon after being convicted following former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," the president wrote. "Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!"

Nov 25, 3:17 pm
‘We’re all in this together’: Biden delivers Thanksgiving address

On the eve of Thanksgiving, Biden delivered an address to the American people from Wilmington, Delaware.

The coronavirus pandemic was at the fore of Biden's message, which comes the same day that the U.S. passed the grim milestone of 260,000 lives lost to coronavirus.

Biden reflected on the first Thanksgiving authorized by the Continental Congress in 1777, saying that it took place "under extremely harsh conditions and deprivation." He added that a plaque still honors the spot where it took place, which reads: "This Thanksgiving, in spite of the suffering, showed the reverence and character that was forging the soul of a nation."

"Faith, courage, sacrifice, service to country, service to each other and gratitude even in the face of suffering have long been part of what Thanksgiving means in America," the president-elect said. "Looking back over our history, you see that it's been in the most difficult circumstances that the soul of our nation has been forged. And now, we find ourselves again facing a long, hard winter."

Biden urged Americans to remember "we're all in this together."

He said that like so many, his Thanksgiving celebration will look different this year, saying that his family will be breaking up into small groups to celebrate.

"I know how hard it is to forego family traditions," he said. "But it's so very important. Our country is in the middle of a dramatic spike in cases."

He noted that the nation is averaging 160,000 new cases a day and many local health systems are at risk of being overwhelmed.

"We owe that to our fellow citizens, who need access to hospital beds and care, to fight this disease," he said. "We owe it to one another. It's literally our patriotic duty as Americans."

Biden also urged Americans to keep hope, and referenced the positive vaccine development news.

"I'm hoping the news of the vaccine will serve as an incentive to every American, to take these simple steps to get control of the virus," he said. "There's real hope, tangible hope, so hang on."

Nov 25, 2:58 pm
Biden’s team briefed on vaccine and federal response to COVID-19

Biden’s team has been officially briefed on the vaccine and federal response to COVID-19.

According to the HHS, leading the briefing was Deputy Surgeon General Rear Adm. Erica Schwartz, who has been acting as transition coordinator for the agency.

Also attending was Brian Harrison, who is chief of staff to Health Secretary Alex Azar, as well as project leads from Operation Warp Speed, the government's vaccine program.

“They are moving forward expeditiously, obviously our teams have had a lot of time to work through the core questions that they need to pose and the pieces of information that they most want to … have clear visibility into in terms of particularly vaccine distribution, testing and the PPE supply chain,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said.

Nov 25, 2:32 pm
Court fight heats up over final certification of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a ruling Wednesday from a lower court imposing a preliminary injunction that paused the process of "perfecting" the certification of the Nov. 3 election.

The lawsuit was initially brought by Republican Congressman Rep. Mike Kelly, alleging that the state legislation that legalized the widespread use of mail-in ballots in the state was passed improperly. Kelly and his co-plaintiffs asked the court for an immediate stop to certification while the court reviewed the matter.

“This order does not impact yesterday’s appointment of electors,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement to ABC News. Shapiro noted the plan for an immediate appeal.
In response to the lower court action, Boockvar's filing notes that Kelly filed the lawsuit over a year after the legislation was passed. The secretary's team also argued that Judge Patricia A. McCullough did not respond to objections the legal team filed and therefore entered her order before she should have. A hearing in the case was scheduled for Friday, but that could change depending on the response from the state Supreme Court.

Nov 25, 12:47 pm
Clyburn throws out names for positions in Biden administration

House Majority Whip James Clyburn pitched some names for positions in Biden's new administration during an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

He named Sen. Bernie Sanders, Stacey Abrams and Jaime Harrison (who ran against Sen. Lindsey Graham this cycle)  as people Biden should look at.

When asked if there is a role for Abrams, Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders in this cabinet, Clyburn replied, "Yes, as well as the Jaime Harrisons. I'm not going to let y'all forget about Jaime.”

“The fact of the matter is he is co-chair of the DNC, now, or associate counsel of the DNC. He ran for that office four years ago,” Clyburn said. “He is a young man who should not be left on the battlefield.”

“Stacey Abrams has done great work. I think she's going to be very successful, come January the 5th, with all the other people working around her,” Clyburn said. “So, there are a lot of young people out there and some not-so-young people, like Bernie Sanders, I wish would come into the administration.”

Interestingly, Clyburn did not mention Buttigieg during his interview.

Clyburn’s endorsement and support of Biden during the campaign were seen as pivotal for Biden's path to the presidency.

Nov 25, 12:11 pm
Biden, Harris expected to receive first presidential daily briefing on Monday

Biden is expected to receive his first presidential daily briefing on Monday, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, his transition team announced Wednesday during a press briefing.

“We're working with DNI [Director of National Intelligence] in the White House on the president-elect and vice president-elect receiving the PDB,” transition spokesperson Jen Psaki said. “We expect the first briefing to take place on Monday.”

In its first press briefing following the GSA ascertainment, the Biden transition also laid out updates on its progress, focusing on the ability to meet with government officials.

“By the close of business on Tuesday, agency review teams made contact or met with over 50 agencies and commissions, including each of the major offices within the Executive Office of the President. The team also held over 30 virtual briefings,” Psaki said.

“We hope that other virtual meetings, including with the White House and other offices in the Executive Office of the President, will follow today and in the days immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday,” she added.

Psaki also previewed that the meetings would focus on “critical policy areas for the American people,” particularly related to the COVID-19 response, including Operation Warp  Speed, PPE supplies, emergency rental assistance and evictions.

-ABC News Molly Nagle

Nov 25, 11:17 am
Trump no longer heading to Pennsylvania

After sources familiar with the planning confirmed to ABC News that  Trump was planning to fly to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, where a handful of Pennsylvania state Republican lawmakers are meeting about the 2020 election, the trip has been canceled, according to a pool report.

"The traveling pool was getting ready to leave for Pennsylvania but was told at the last minute that their trip has been canceled," it said. "Still no public events on the president's schedule."

Multiple sources say senior White House and campaign aides spent Monday trying to convince Trump to not make the trip.

The Trump campaign announced attorney Rudy Giuliani and his team would go to Pennsylvania for a strictly Republican “Majority Policy Committee” hearing at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at 12:30 p.m. According to a release on the Pennsylvania State Senate's website, at least seven state senators, including the Senate majority leader-elect, will be present.

-ABC News' John Santucci and Elizabeth Thomas

Nov 25, 10:39 am
Trump campaign adviser tests positive for COVID-19

Boris Epshteyn, a Trump campaign adviser who has been working closely with Rudy Giuliani, said via a tweet Wednesday morning that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

As ABC News reported, Giuliani had been planning to go to Pennsylvania Wednesday, but given his contact with Epshteyn, some believe that this news could impact his trip.

This is the same trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that sources say Trump was considering making.

-ABC News’ John Santucci

Nov 25, 9:47 am
Xi Jinping sends congratulatory message to Biden

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to Biden on his election win, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday.

Xi noted in his message that promoting the healthy development of U.S.-China relations is in the best interest of both nations and the international community as a whole, according to Xinhua. He also emphasized cooperation and mutual respect between the two nations.

China’s Vice President Wang Qishan also sent a congratulatory message to Kamala Harris on the same day.

Nov 25, 9:47 am
Trump planning Pennsylvania trip Wednesday as some state lawmakers meet

President Trump is planning to fly to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, where a handful of Pennsylvania state Republican lawmakers are meeting about the 2020 election, sources familiar with the planning confirm to ABC News.

The exact details of Trump’s trip are still in flux and could be scrapped altogether, the sources say, adding Trump Attorney Rudy Giuliani has been pushing the president to join.

The sources add as of now, Trump is planning to fly via Marine One to Pennsylvania and what he does on the ground remains unclear but it could include meeting this group of state legislators.

Multiple sources say senior White House and campaign aides spent Monday trying to convince Trump to not make the trip.

The Trump campaign announced Giuliani and his team would go to Pennsylvania for a strictly Republican “Majority Policy Committee” hearing at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at 12:30 p.m. According to a release on the Pennsylvania State Senate's website, at least seven state senators, including the Senate majority leader-elect, will be present.

The state Senate website refers to it as an “informational meeting regarding 2020 Election Issues [sic].” It will be streamed.

The release features a statement from state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who requested the meeting.

“Elections are a fundamental principle of our democracy – unfortunately, Pennsylvanians have lost faith in the electoral system,” said Mastriano, who recently called for the resignation of State Department Secretary Kathy Boockvar for negligence and incompetence. “It is unacceptable.”

“Over the past few weeks, I have heard from thousands of Pennsylvanians regarding issues experienced at the polls, irregularities with the mail-in voting system and concerns whether their vote was counted,” said Mastriano. “We need to correct these issues to restore faith in our republic.”

Pennsylvania certified its results for Joe Biden just Tuesday.

-ABC News' John Santucci and Katherine Faulders

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump threatens more lawsuits, but court challenges are hitting dead ends


(WASHINGTON) -- Pennsylvania officials asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to put an end to the Trump campaign's legal challenge of an election that has now been certified, and in their view, resolved.

"The Trump Campaign's present demand to set aside millions (or "potentially tens of thousands") of lawfully cast ballots -- without a single plausible factual allegation to back up this extraordinary request -- should be swiftly rejected," says the new filing on behalf of Allegheny, Philadelphia, Chester and Montgomery counties.

The case before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals appears to be on a fast track, with parties given just 24 hours to submit their arguments.

And if the ruling goes against the president -- as more than two dozen rulings have to date -- Democrats believe that one of the few remaining doors for Donald Trump to contest the 2020 presidential contest will be shut.

"It's readily apparent to everyone besides Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Jenna Ellis that this election is over and that Joe Biden won resoundingly," said Bob Bauer, the lead attorney for the Biden campaign, in a statement on Tuesday.

A series of rulings over the past week offers signs that the Trump legal effort could soon be out of options. On Monday, the Trump campaign and its allies lost cases before both the Michigan and Pennsylvania state supreme courts. Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said she could only draw one conclusion from the decisive Michigan decision, which rejected an effort by Trump poll observers to halt the election's certification in the state.

"The main takeaway is that this state court effort to prevent certification has reached its final unsuccessful stop," Weiser said. "It's over."

Over the weekend, a U.S. District Court judge in Pennsylvania dismissed the Trump campaign's case in federal court, which is being handled by longtime Trump ally Rudy Giuliani. The decision, which rejected outright the attempt to persuade the court to cancel millions of mail-in votes, was emphatic.

"This Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence," Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote. "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. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more."

Mark Aronchick, a Philadelphia lawyer who argued the case against Giuliani, said he will wait to hear what the appeals court says before he can declare any sort of victory in the legal battle.

"I will say from the rooftops that the American public should be immensely proud that we have an independent judiciary," Aronchick said. "We operate under the rule of law, and not the rule of the soapbox from the driveway of Four Seasons Landscaping."

One person who appears not to believe the legal battle is coming to an end is Trump. In a series of tweets in recent days, the president and his allies have pushed for ongoing efforts to challenge the results of the election in court. In one late-night tweet Monday, the president said his team is moving "full speed ahead." On Tuesday morning he promised a "big lawsuit" will be filed "soon."

At a 90-minute press conference last week, Giuliani also teased a new filing, saying "we're about to file a major lawsuit in Georgia. That will be filed probably tomorrow."

That lawsuit has yet to come, and the campaign has been absent from courtrooms in Georgia for weeks. The campaign's only case in the state came the day after the election, and it was swiftly dismissed.

Despite Trump's tweets, his team's effort in the courts has been relatively quiet. The campaign has not filed a new lawsuit since Nov. 18, and the flurry of suits filed in the days after the election have almost all concluded. Of the 19 election cases filed by the campaign, 15 have already been denied and dismissed by judges or withdrawn by the campaign as its fails to present any substantial evidence of voter fraud to back up its public claims.

Just three cases remain somewhat active. In addition to the pending appeal before the Third Circuit, the campaign has a Michigan case sitting untouched on appeal. The case was rejected as "defective" by the court for improper filing, and the issue was never corrected. Another, in Nevada, has not yet been decided, but legal experts told ABC News the case would be unlikely to impact the outcome of that state's vote count.

In the interim, several states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, have gone forward and certified their election results. That has not changed the messaging from the Trump campaign.

"Certification by state officials is simply a procedural step," Ellis, a Trump campaign senior legal adviser, said in a statement on Monday. "We are going to continue combatting election fraud around the country as we fight to count all the legal votes."

Aronchick told ABC News that Democrats will respond if the Trump team continues to look to the courts to alter the outcome of the election.

"I would put nothing past Mr. Giuliani to figure out some other way to file somewhere else, with some other type of frivolous claim," he said. "And if they do, we'll be ready for them."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Biden formally introduces national security and foreign policy team

Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesBy MOLLY NAGLE and JOHN VERHOVEK, ABC News

(WILMINGTON, Del.) -- President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris formally announced their team of foreign policy and national security officials that will lead their administration's efforts to deliver on Biden's long held campaign pledge to restore America's standing on the world stage.

Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden and Harris were joined on stage by their picks for top-tier government positions, including Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary nominee Alejando Mayorkas and Avril Haines, Biden's pick for director of national intelligence.

Also joining the group were Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Biden's nominee for U.N. ambassador; Jake Sullivan, nominee for national security adviser; and former Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be joining the Biden administration as the special presidential envoy for climate.

"It's a team that will keep our country and people safe and secure, and it's a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it," Biden said, in reference to President Donald Trump's opposing "America first" approach. "Once again, [we will] sit at the head of the table, ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies -- ready to stand up for our values."

In a nod to the historic nature of a number of his picks, Biden said the picks he unveiled Tuesday represented "an unrelenting belief in the promise of America"

"The team meets this moment, this team behind me. They embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies," Biden said. "Collectively, this team has secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory, made possible through decades of experience working with our partners."

Blinken, a longtime Biden foreign policy hand, spoke directly to the rank-and-file members of the State Department in his remarks, and recounted his own stepfather's story of escaping the Holocaust, a story he said reflects the message America should send to the world.

"That's who we are. That's what America represents to the world, however imperfectly. Now we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence. Humility because, as the president-elect said, we can't solve all the world's problems alone. We need to be working with other countries," Blinken said.

Mayorkas, who would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security, also recalled his family's story and how it will guide his decision-making.

"I'm proud that for the first time ever the department will be led by an immigrant, a Latino, who knows that we are a nation of laws and values," Mayorkas said.

Expected to be the first woman to lead America's intelligence community, Haines pledged to represent the "patriots" that comprise the intelligence community, and said her charge as the next director of national intelligence will be to "speak truth to power," adding she knows that Biden respects the opinion of the intelligence committee.

"I've worked for you for a long time and I accept this nomination knowing that ... you value the perspective of the intelligence community, and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult, and I assure you there will be those times," Haines said with Biden standing alongside her.

Thomas-Greenfield, who would be the second Black woman to serve as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, also delivered a message to diplomats and public servants globally in her remarks.

"On this day I'm thinking about the American people, my fellow career diplomats and public servants around the world. I want to say to you, America is back. Multilateralism is back," said Thomas-Greenfield, who also referenced her roots growing up in the segregated South.

Biden also praised Sullivan, who served as his national security adviser when he was vice president, as having a "once-in-a-generation intellect" and noted the wealth of experience Sullivan possesses and the role he's played as a key policy adviser for his successful 2020 presidential campaign.

"You've told us that the alliances we rebuild, the institutions we lead, the agreements we sign, all of them should be judged by a basic question: Will this make life better, easier, safer for families across this country? Our foreign policy has to deliver for these families," Sullivan said at the event.

Biden also spoke about the historic nature of Kerry's position in his administration, focusing on climate change as a national security issue.

"For the first time ever, we will have a presidential envoy on climate. He will be matched with high-level White House climate policy coordinator and policymaking structure, to be announced in December, and that will lead efforts here in the United States to combat the climate crisis, mobilize action to meet the existential threat that we face," Biden said of Kerry's role.

"Let me be clear. I don't, for a minute, underestimate the difficulties of meeting my bold commitments to fighting climate change," Biden continued. "But at the same time, no one should underestimate for a minute my determination to do just that."

The former secretary of state, who had a hand in negotiating the Paris Climate Accord during the Obama administration, noted Biden's desire to address climate change more fulsomely on the global level.

"At the global meeting in Glasgow one year from now, all nations must raise ambition together or we will all fail together, and failure is not an option. Succeeding together means tapping into the best of American ingenuity, creativity, and diplomacy -- from brain power to alternative energy power, using every tool we have to get where we have to go. No one should doubt the determination of this president and vice president," Kerry said.

As he outlined the qualifications of his national security and foreign policy team, Biden also said he was "pleased" that the General Services Administration, after a more than two-week delay, allowed his transition team to access the government resources afforded to him as president-elect.

"I'm pleased to have received the ascertainment from GSA to carry out a smooth and peaceful transition of power, so our teams can prepare to meet the challenges at hand -- to control the pandemic, to build back better and to protect the safety and security of the American people," Biden said.

Biden also looked ahead to the next step in the nomination process: Senate confirmation.

"I hope these outstanding nominees receive a prompt hearing, and that we can work across the aisle in good faith to move forward for the country," Biden said. "Let's begin that work to heal and unite, to heal and unite America, as well as the world."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

GOP has to 'get back to policies and ideas': Rep. Denver Riggleman

U.S. House of RepresentativesBy MEG CUNNINGHAM, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican Party has to move back toward "policies and ideas" and away from conspiracy theories like those about the election, outgoing Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., said on ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

Riggleman was one of the first Republicans to publicly accept Joe Biden as the president-elect and told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein that fear of the base was keeping other elected officials from doing the same.

"Why is it that the strongest voices that we have heard are coming out, demanding or calling on the president to do the right thing -- have the strongest Republican voices -- are either people that are leaving Congress or who have already left Congress?" Karl asked.

"Yeah, I think it's fear," Riggleman said. "But right now, I think it's fear of the electorate and the base and maybe those few points that could cost him a primary, not get them reelected or maybe somebody is going to say something mean about them on Twitter."

Riggleman, who lost the Republican primary in Virginia's 5th Congressional District to further right-leaning Rep.-elect Bob Good, highlighted recent legal attempts by the Trump campaign to overturn election results. Lawyers representing or defending the president, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, have presented baseless conspiracy theories about voting machines and connections with foreign nations, among others.

"But right now, with the incredible conspiracy theories that we're seeing and what just happened with Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and some of the things we're seeing, I almost find it -- that it would help you as a Republican in some respects based on integrity, based on policy, to say something ridiculous when it obviously is," he said.

While Riggleman said he expects such theories to dissolve in the courts and in public opinion over the next few weeks, he added that he ultimately fears the conspiracies surrounding the election could continue to create fractionalization.

"I'm going to tell you there's going to be a complete dissolution of this theory. It is going to fragment. But my worry is, is that fragmentation of that theory is just going to cause more fractionalization," Riggleman said. "And some of these social media platforms like Parler or Gabb or Batsuit, and now you're going to have a radicalization movement in some of these areas."

"Let's be honest, a lot of these platforms are opening up because we have issues with Twitter and Facebook censoring some of the crazier parts of this. And they don't want that. And the thing is, you can monetize insanity pretty quickly on some of these platforms," he added.

Riggleman's new book Bigfoot...It's Complicated examines conspiracies surrounding Bigfoot, but has opened him to examining other conspiracy theories and their spread, as well.

"Well, then I think it's a critical point and a point you make in your book, that you can't really argue with conspiracy theories. You can't bring reasoned rationality to it. It's kind of take and hold. Where do you see things going in the Republican Party?" Klein said.

Riggleman said such conspiracies had to be refuted "on a level that's just completely sincere and unequivocal."

"That really frightens me, guys. It really frightens me," he said. "I can't imagine that anybody would grab on to any of these theories and any type of way. And just like that press conference with Sidney Powell that the GOP had, that has to be refuted on a level that's just completely sincere and unequivocal. This is crazy. This is nuts. We've got to nip it in the bud right now. And I just don't see that happening in the next two years, honestly."

"That's what I worry about, is the weaponization of culture, ideas or myth, because you think that's true by dehumanizing others. And that is incredibly dangerous," he added.

He said candidates who entertain, don't disavow or believe conspiracies should not be allowed a place in Congress.

"There's three things I would look at as an individual that believes -- it's number one, they're ignorant of it at this point. After all this time, they're so ignorant of it," he said. "Number two, they don't believe it, but they're pandering to people to actually get elected, to fundraise or to stay in the know with certain people that they believe are in power. Or number three, they actually believe it. And all three of those -- to me -- all three of those disqualify you to be a candidate or somebody who serves this great country."

"If you're ignorant of the very things that are being used to dehumanize -- whether it's anti-Semitic behavior, white supremacy -- if you're ignorant of that, you shouldn't be in office. If you are pandering to it, you shouldn't be in office. If you believe it, you definitely shouldn't be in office," he added.

Karl asked Riggleman what he thought House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy should do to approach the situation, as at least two incoming freshmen have expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory.

"There's only two teams, guys," Riggleman said. "There's only Republicans and Democrats. And if you're not part of that tribe, you're going to be screwed. Right? And that's what you're seeing right now, is McCarthy has to keep together this conference that has a mix of say, brilliant, crazy and dumb. But -- but if you're going to pander to this kind of stuff, it will eventually bite you in the rear parts."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Will President Trump be Re-Elected?