President-elect Joe Biden is quietly pushing forward with the business of preparing to become America’s next commander in chief even as President Donald Trump, who refuses to concede the election, and his allies seemed determined to make his transition as difficult as possible.
Trump has insisted without evidence the election was stolen from him even though Republican and Democratic election officials nationwide have said publicly the election went well and international observers confirm there were no serious irregularities.
Biden Wins Arizona, NBC News Projects
President-elect Joe Biden has won Arizona, NBC News projects.
Arizona hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1996. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton there.
The race was called on the ninth day of counting after Election Day.
Trump Looking to 2024?
A person familiar with the discussions confirms to NBC News that President Donald Trump has told some advisers that if the election is certified for President-elect Joe Biden, he will announce a 2024 campaign shortly afterward.
The New York Times first reported the news.
It’s not clear what date Trump is referring to by “certified.”
Pennsylvania Judge Sides With Trump Campaign
A Pennsylvania judge has sided with President Donald Trump’s campaign and ordered counties not to count a small number of mail-in or absentee ballots for which the voter didn’t submit valid identification within six days after the Nov. 3 election.
The injunction issued Thursday by Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt deals with an as-yet unknown number of ballots that may number a few thousand or fewer.
While the Trump campaign’s general counsel, Matt Morgan, called the order a “win," the ballots affected may not have been tabulated and are unlikely to affect the outcome in Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press called the presidential contest for Democrat Joe Biden on Saturday after determining the remaining ballots in Pennsylvania would not allow Trump to catch up.
Biden held an approximately 55,000-vote margin Thursday night. But Trump has refused to concede, and his campaign and Republican allies have several lawsuits pending.
The court order affects a subset of about 10,000 ballots that arrived within three days of polls closing, a period allowed by the state Supreme Court because of concerns over the pandemic and delays in the U.S. Postal Service.
Obama Talks Trump
Former President Barack Obama says he's troubled by the Republican officials who are “going along with” President Donald Trump's baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud.
Obama made the comment in an interview Wednesday with CBS News. The full interview is set to air Sunday on CBS' “60 Minutes.”
Obama is promoting his new book, “A Promised Land." The release date comes just days after Obama's vice president, Joe Biden, was elected president over Trump.
Obama says the false claims about voter fraud are “one more step in delegitimizing not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally.” He says it puts the U.S. on a “dangerous path.”
Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden. Obama says the false claims of voter fraud appear to be motivated by Trump not liking to lose.
Biden Taking Time With Family
Joe Biden is heading to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for some time with his family for his first break from transition work since he became president-elect last weekend.
The Bidens own a vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, a small beach town about 90 miles from his house in Wilmington. It’s a favorite retreat of the Bidens, and the president-elect has returned there to mull over major decisions in the past. He spent time holed up in his Rehoboth home in August, while he considered his vice presidential pick.
Biden is not expected to have public events until at least Saturday night, when he returns to Wilmington, though aides say he’s expected to continue private transition meetings.
Biden’s transition work continued this week, with the announcement of his agency landing teams, groups of staff and volunteers tasked with gathering information at the federal agencies to help smooth the transition of power. Biden is expected also to review options for top-level staff and Cabinet appointees in the coming weeks.
Schumer Calls on Republicans to Stop 'Temper Tantrum' Over Election Results
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Republicans need to except the election results and “stop deliberately and recklessly sowing doubt about our democratic process,” NBC News reports.
"The election is not in doubt," Schumer said at a joint news conference with Pelosi on Capitol Hill. "This is nothing more than a temper tantrum by Republicans, nothing more than a pathetic political performance for an audience of one: President Donald John Trump."
Both he and Pelosi pleaded with Republicans to get back to the negotiating table instead to craft another Covid-19 relief package.
"It's most unfortunate that the Republicans have decided that they will not respect the will of the people," Pelosi said. "And let me just say, it looks like the house is burning down, and they just refuse to throw water on it."
Pope Francis Congratulates Biden as President-elect Continues to Take Calls From World Leaders
President-elect Joe Biden has spoken by phone with Pope Francis as he continues to talk with leaders around the world.
Biden’s campaign said in a statement that the president-elect thanked the pontiff for “extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation” for Francis' “leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world.”
Biden also said he’d like to work with the pope to further “a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants.”
Biden is just the second Catholic to be elected president in U.S. history, and the first after John F. Kennedy. He has spoken openly about the importance of faith in his life and attends Mass near his home in Wilmington, Delaware, nearly every week.
Biden has spoken this week with several foreign leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Who Gets Kamala Harris' Job?
Sen. Kamala Harris' ascendancy to the vice presidency next year has left California with a tantalizing question: Who will replace her in the Senate?
The pick falls to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is widely expected to make a choice that highlights the state's diversity. Prominent names figuring in his deliberations include Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a longtime Newsom friend who would become the state's first Latino senator, and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus and was on President-elect Joe Biden's short list for vice president.
Biden and Harris will be sworn in on Jan. 20 and it's not yet clear how soon before then she will give up her seat. Newsom has said he has no timeline to make an announcement.
“We are working through the cattle call of considerations," he told reporters this week. “I want to make sure it’s inclusive, I want to make sure that we are considerate of people’s points of view.”
Graham Giving $1M to Help Georgia's GOP Senators
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was just reelected in South Carolina, says he's donating $1 million of his campaign money to help two GOP senators win runoff races in neighboring Georgia.
Graham told Fox News Channel's “Fox & Friends” on Thursday that Republicans need to counter a “tsunami of liberal money” flowing into Georgia ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff elections, which will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate. Democrats already control the House, and Democrat Joe Biden is the president-elect after beating President Donald Trump in their White House contest.
In the Georgia runoffs, Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to unseat Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Raphael Warnock is facing off against Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
GOP Sen. Lankford: 'I Will Step In' If Biden Doesn't Start Receiving Intel Briefings
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said President-elect Joe Biden should be getting intelligence briefings and pledged to "step in" if the General Services Administration doesn't start the transition process by Friday, NBC News reports.
"I've already started engaging in this area. ... And if that's not occurring by Friday, I will step in and push and say this needs to occur so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task,” Lankford said in an interview with KRMG Radio in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday.
He said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also should be getting the briefings, which should not be a problem because she already has security clearances as a member of the Senate intelligence committee.
Joe Biden Taps Ron Klain as Chief of Staff
President-elect Joe Biden has chosen his longtime adviser Ron Klain to reprise his role as his chief of staff, installing an aide with decades of experience in the top role in his White House.
Klain will lead a White House likely to be consumed by the response to the coronavirus pandemic. He served as the coordinator to the Ebola health crisis in 2014. Klain also faces the challenge of working with a divided Congress that could include a Republican-led Senate.
More World Leaders Talk to Biden About the Virus, Other Issues
World leaders spoke to President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday about cooperating on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other issues.
In his conversations with key Asian allies, Biden seemed intent on easing their uncertainties about a less-engaged Washington, which built up during the four years of Trump’s “America First” approach.
A look at their conversations:
SOUTH KOREA: The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Biden during their 14-minute call reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea and said he would closely coordinate with Seoul in a push to defuse a nuclear standoff with North Korea.
Biden’s office said he expressed his desire to strengthen the U.S.-South Korea alliance as a “linchpin of security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.” Biden also praised Moon for South Korea’s gains in its anti-virus campaign and discussed cooperation over a global economic recovery and the countries' “mutual interest in strengthening democracy," his office said.
AUSTRALIA: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he invited Biden to Australia next year to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the countries’ shared defense treaty. Morrison said he and Biden during their call made clear their commitment to strengthening the bilateral alliance.
Biden said he looked forward to working closely Morrison “on many common challenges, including containing the COVID-19 pandemic and guarding against future global health threats; confronting climate change; laying the groundwork for the global economic recovery; strengthening democracy, and maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region,” according to his office.
JAPAN: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he and Biden during their call reaffirmed the importance of their countries’ alliances and agreed to further deepen it in face of China’s growing influence and North Korea’s nuclear threat.
Biden’s office said the leaders “spoke about their shared commitment to tackle climate change, strengthen democracy around the world, and reinforce the U.S.-Japan alliance as the cornerstone of a prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific region.”