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.
Trump Suggests Possibility of New Administration
President Donald Trump says he refuses to have another lockdown as coronavirus cases surge across the country, but suggested one could be in the offing should he lose his legal challenges to overcome his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump, who spoke publicly Friday for the first time since his defeat, repeated his long-held argument that government restrictions meant to stem the virus cause more problems than they solve. But Trump, who has refused to concede his election loss, made clear that the decision might not be up to him.
“This administration will not be going to a lockdown,” he said. “Hopefully whatever happens in the future, who knows, which administration it will be, I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”
Biden, to be certain, has not said whether he would order a lockdown.
In the week since he defeated Trump, Biden has devoted most of his public remarks to encouraging Americans to wear a mask and view the coronavirus as a threat that has no regard for political ideology.
Trump Takes NC; Biden Apparent Winner in Georgia
President-elect Joe Biden is the apparent winner of Georgia, according to a projection by NBC News, while President Donald Trump has won North Carolina.
With those states called, NBC News projects Biden to finish with 306 electoral votes, to Trump's 232.
Georgia has long been a Republican stronghold. Voters there haven’t swung for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992. Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by 5 percentage points in 2016. And the state’s government is dominated by the GOP.
But the party’s grip has loosened. As older, white, Republican-leaning voters die, they are being replaced by a younger and more racially diverse cast of people, many of whom moved to the booming Atlanta area from other states — and took their politics with them.
In North Carolina, Biden was trying to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since Barack Obama in 2008.
Trump beat Hillary Clinton in North Carolina by 3.6 percentage points in 2016.
Trump to Deliver Remarks on Vaccine
Trump, who has remained mostly holed up in the White House this week as he stews over his election loss, is set to deliver an update Friday on Operation Warp Speed, the effort to get a coronavirus vaccine to market as speedily and safely as possible.
Trump, who was briefed by advisers in the Oval Office earlier Friday, will speak at 4 p.m. ET from the Rose Garden, according to the White House. It will be the first time the president addresses the White House press corps in more than a week.
Trump has been largely disengaged from the battle against COVID-19 at a moment when the disease is tearing across the United States at an alarming pace.
Trump Campaign Gives Up on Maricopa County, Arizona, Lawsuit
Lawyers for the Trump campaign told a judge in Maricopa County, Arizona, on Friday that their lawsuit alleging that problems with the use of Sharpies caused some ballots to be wrongly rejected is moot.
The lawyers suggested that number of ballots in question would not change the outcome in the state given Joe Biden's lead.
“The tabulation of votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors,” they said.
NBC News has called Arizona for the president-elect, counting his lead there at more than 100,000 votes.
Federal Court Rejects Effort to Block Late-Arriving Ballots
A federal appeals court in Philadelphia on Friday rejected an effort led by a Republican congressional candidate to block about 9,300 ballots that arrived after Election Day.
The three-judge panel, led by Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Brooks Smith, noted the “unprecedented challenges” facing the nation this year, especially the “vast disruption” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ruling involves the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to accept mail-in ballots that arrived by Friday, Nov. 6, three days after the close of polling places.
Republicans have the same issue pending on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A Few Cracks But No Big GOP Break With Trump on Biden's Win
The most powerful Republicans in Washington are standing firmly behind President Donald Trump and his unsupported claims of voter fraud for now, and the resistance is complicating Biden's effort to lead a smooth transition to the January inauguration, keeping him from the funding and agency resources typically afforded to an incoming administration.
But some Republicans, worried about the national security implications of those hurdles, are beginning to say that Biden should at least have access to intelligence briefings so he has the most complete information about threats facing the country when he takes office.
“I think — especially on classified briefings — the answer is yes,” said the Senate’s most senior Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. That echoed comments by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, among other GOP colleagues.
However, Grassley also said he saw no reason for Biden to have fuller transition access, sticking with an approach from the disputed 2000 election that was later blamed as a national security shortcoming in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The Republicans willing to break publicly with Trump's unprecedented effort to undermine the election remain an extremely small minority.
Pope Congratulates Joe Biden on Election
President-elect Joe Biden, a lifelong Roman Catholic, spoke to Pope Francis on Thursday, despite President Donald Trump refusing to concede. Trump claims — without evidence — that the election was stolen from him through massive but unspecified acts of fraud.
Biden’s transition team said in a statement that the president-elect thanked Francis for “extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation.” He also saluted the pontiff’s “leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world.”
Biden said he hopes to work with Francis on issues such as climate change, poverty and immigration.
Georgia Hand Tally of Presidential Race Getting Underway
Election officials in Georgia’s 159 counties are undertaking a hand tally of the presidential race that stems from an audit required by state law. The law requires that one race be audited by hand to check that the machines counted the ballots accurately, not because of any suspected problems with the results.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger chose to audit the presidential race, in which Democrat Joe Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes. Raffensperger says the tight margin means a full hand count is necessary. The counties are to begin the audit by 9 a.m. ET Friday and complete it by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.
China Congratulates Biden on Being Elected US President
China on Friday became one of the last major countries to congratulate Joe Biden on being elected U.S. president.
China, along with Russia, avoided joining the throng of governments that congratulated Biden last weekend after he was projected to have secured enough Electoral College votes in the Nov. 3 election to win the White House.
“We respect the choice of the American people,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin. “We congratulate Mr. Biden and (vice presidential running mate) Ms. (Kamala) Harris.”
Wang gave no reason for the delay but said, “the result will be confirmed according to U.S. laws and procedures.”
Biden Wins Arizona, NBC News Projects
President-elect Joe Biden has won Arizona, NBC News projected late Thursday night.
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.
Is the Outcome of the Election Really in Doubt?
More than a week after Election Day, incumbent President Donald Trump is still promising his supporters a win and Republican lawyers are still pursuing claims of election improprieties in half a dozen states. But is the result of the election really in doubt?
Conversations with more than a dozen state election chiefs around the country and with election lawyers and experts indicate that recounts will likely not move states like Wisconsin and Georgia into Trump's column, NBC News reports. Nor do these election officials think that legal challenges — even if some succeed — will undo former Vice President Joe Biden's projected Electoral College victory.
Despite the number of lawsuits filed and the public rhetoric that has accompanied them, experts say, few have the evidentiary backing to survive in court. The state election officials, Republican and Democrat alike, told NBC News there is no evidence of fraud backing up Trump's claims in their states.
"Any amount of scrutiny is going to reveal this, that the process actually worked extraordinarily well," said Jocelyn Benson, Michigan's Democratic secretary of state, who points out that Biden is leading in Michigan by nearly 150,000 votes.