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Arizona, Wisconsin certify Biden’s win; president-elect names inauguration planning committee

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 11/30/2020 Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner
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Arizona and Wisconsin certified their results Monday, giving President-elect Joe Biden a win in two more states where President Trump has contested the election. Trump allies have pledged to continue court challenges in the two states.

The action came as Biden forged ahead with plans for his presidency, announcing a committee to organize his Jan. 20 inauguration and formally unveiling his economic team. Biden was also set to get his first President’s Daily Brief, a classified compilation of information from intelligence agencies, though it was not announced whether he had yet received it. Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris received the briefing, at the Commerce Department.

Here’s what to know:

9:07 PM: Chris Krebs fiercely defends election while Trump’s attacks on it get weirder

a man is using his cell phone: Then-CISA Christopher Krebs testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock) © Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock Then-CISA Christopher Krebs testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Christopher Krebs last night offered a cool, rational defense of the election’s integrity in his first interview since President Trump fired him as the nation’s top election security official.

It was a stark contrast with Trump, whose attacks on the 2020 contest are becoming increasingly fantastical.

Krebs, who led the government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, gave “60 Minutes” interviewer Scott Pelley a point-by-point refutation of the unfounded election fraud claims made by Trump and his allies, which he called “nonsense” and “farcical.”

Those baseless claims include a conspiracy theory positing that Democrats operated a secret algorithm changing how machines recorded votes on an extensive scale and that votes were mysteriously tabulated overseas.

Read the full story

By: Joseph Marks

8:03 PM: Analysis: Debunking Trump allies’ latest arguments about fraud in the 2020 election

a group of people standing in front of a flag: Supporters of President Trump gather outside the Wyndham Gettysburg hotel before a Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee public hearing Wednesday to discuss 2020 election issues and irregularities with President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Gettysburg, Pa. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images) © Samuel Corum/Getty Images Supporters of President Trump gather outside the Wyndham Gettysburg hotel before a Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee public hearing Wednesday to discuss 2020 election issues and irregularities with President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Gettysburg, Pa. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The 2020 presidential contest ended four weeks ago, but for Trump and his allies, the fight continues. The president, as you’re no doubt well aware, continues to insist that it was he, and not Biden, who won the election. There is no evidence that this is true in any sense; Trump lost the electoral college by the same margin with which he won it four years ago, even as he lost the popular vote by a much wider margin.

Through some combination of dishonesty and delusion, though, Trump maintains that he won by a wide margin. To bolster his case, he has elevated various scattershot theories aimed loosely at suggesting that something — anything! — sketchy may have occurred. Those theories ebb and evolve depending on how ludicrous they are shown to be, meaning that the collection of falsehoods itself changes over time.

Read the full story

By: Philip Bump

7:33 PM: Pence to visit Georgia on Friday for pandemic briefing, GOP Senate rally

Vice President Pence will travel on Friday to Georgia, where he will receiving a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic and hold a rally for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of their Jan. 5 runoff elections.

According to the White House, Pence will visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to receive “a briefing on the unprecedented covid-19 vaccine progress and upcoming distribution stage.”

Later Friday, he will headline a “Defend the Majority” rally for Perdue and Loeffler in Savannah.

“The Vice President will deliver remarks on the historic accomplishments of the Trump Administration with the help of the Republican Senate majority, along with the importance of fighting for conservative legislators,” the White House said.

The visit will come one day before Trump is expected to hold a rally in Georgia for Loeffler and Perdue. Details of that event have not yet been announced.

By: Felicia Sonmez

7:12 PM: Arizona certifies election results, giving Biden electoral votes and Kelly the Senate win

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs certified election results on Monday, officially naming Biden as the winner of the state and further cementing his national victory over Trump.

Hobbs, a Democrat, certified the statewide vote in the company of two key Republicans, Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich has vocally defended the integrity of Arizona’s election against his own party’s claims of widespread fraud, saying his office investigated and found no evidence.

“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 Monday.

Ducey also said the state’s election was run properly. “The pandemic and covid-19 brought new unprecedented challenges for our state. But as I said before, we do elections well here in Arizona,” he said. “The system is strong, and that’s why I have bragged on it so much.”

The certification paves the way not only for Biden to receive the state’s 11 electoral votes but also for Democrat Mark Kelly to join the U.S. Senate. Kelly, who defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally in a special election Nov. 3, is expected to be sworn in Wednesday.

The legal contests in Arizona are not over, however. It is one of several states that permits election results to be challenged after certification.

Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, has said she intends to lodge such a challenge. She has already asked a court to allow her to begin inspecting mail ballots and envelopes, arguing that poor signature verification may have allowed fraudulent votes to be counted. A hearing on that request was underway as Hobbs certified the results.

Hours after the Arizona officials certified the state’s results, Trump lashed out at Ducey, tweeting and retweeting criticism of the governor for allowing Kelly to be seated so quickly.

“Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now,” Trump tweeted of Ducey. He then tagged right-wing channel One America News and added: “What is going on with @dougducey? Republicans will long remember!”

By: Emma Brown

7:10 PM: Sen. Murkowski says Trump should concede, while Sen. Graham urges him to keep contesting results

Lisa Murkowski wearing a pink shirt: Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska speaks during a Senate hearing May 12 on Capitol Hill. (Win McNamee/Bloomberg News) Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska speaks during a Senate hearing May 12 on Capitol Hill. (Win McNamee/Bloomberg News)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Monday said Trump should concede the election to Biden, going further than most other Republicans have in calling on the president to acknowledge his loss.

“I think he should concede. I think the race is over,” the Republican from Alaska told CNN on Monday afternoon.

Murkowski was among the first Senate Republicans to congratulate Biden after his victory speech earlier this month.

Her comments Monday came as two more states — Wisconsin and Arizona — certified Biden as the winner. They also came even as one of Murkowski’s Republican colleagues, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), urged Trump to continue contesting the election results.

In an exchange with reporters at the Capitol on Monday afternoon, Graham said he spoke with Trump over the weekend. “He’s gonna fight for every vote and push systems to get better, and I said, ‘Keep it up,’ ” Graham said.

There has been no evidence of widespread election fraud. Nonetheless, Graham said that Trump is focused on his legal challenges as well as on mail-in voting, “and I’m very worried about it too myself, quite frankly.”

Asked whether he thinks Trump should attend Biden’s inauguration, Graham replied, “If Biden ends up winning, yeah, I think so.”

“I think it’s good for the country; it’d be good for him. We’ll know in December,” he said.

By: Felicia Sonmez and Seung Min Kim

6:29 PM: Kay Bailey Hutchison, Trump’s ambassador to NATO, says Biden is president-elect

Kay Bailey Hutchison holding a sign: U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Feb. 11, 2020. © Francisco Seco/AP U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Feb. 11, 2020.

Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, the permanent U.S. representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, described Biden on Monday as president-elect and repeatedly referred to his team as “the incoming administration,” in remarks that go further than those of most Trump appointees in acknowledging the president’s election loss.

Hutchison made the remarks during a virtual question-and-answer session posted online Monday by the State Department’s U.S.-European Media Hub.

“Well, most certainly, options are left open for the incoming administration in January,” Hutchison said in response to a question about U.S. troop levels abroad. “I think that the way that this has been put forward does leave the decisions for the next administration to determine what is in their best interests, and in the interests of the United States, of course.”

She also emphasized that she thinks the presidential transition will be “smooth.” Trump gave the go-ahead last week for the General Services Administration to formally begin the transition process, but even so, he has continued to tweet baseless claims that the election was “rigged” and refuses to concede to Biden.

“I think that there are many things that this administration — the incoming administration — will do when they come in,” Hutchison said Monday. “And we are going to have a smooth transition so they have all the information they need to determine what the policy is as it stands, and when they review — as every administration would, when they come in — what the options would be going forward for them to look at and make a determination.”

Meanwhile, Biden had phone calls Monday with several foreign leaders, including the presidents of Argentina, Costa Rica and Kenya. He also spoke with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, according to the Biden transition team.

By: Felicia Sonmez

6:11 PM: Wisconsin governor formally certifies Biden’s win in the state

Tony Evers wearing a suit and tie sitting at a desk: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has formally certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. (Scott Bauer/AP) Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has formally certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. (Scott Bauer/AP)

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has formally certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Badger state, signing a statement of ascertainment reflecting Biden’s win and giving him the state’s 10 electoral votes.

In a statement, Evers, a Democrat, said he had carried out his duty to certify the election “as required by state and federal law.”

The move came shortly after Biden was formally found to be the winner in Wisconsin by the chairwoman of the state’s elections commission. Biden defeated President Trump in the key swing state by more than 20,000 votes, a victory that was confirmed after a recount requested by the president’s campaign in the state’s two largest counties.

In a tweet over the weekend, Trump said his campaign would file a lawsuit Monday or Tuesday arguing that the recount had included illegally cast ballots. During the process, his lawyers had alleged no fraud or wrongdoing but had argued that election officials had improperly applied state law to some absentee ballots. The rules they challenged were in place statewide and have been unchanged since before the 2016 election, which Trump won and did not contest.

State law includes a provision allowing a campaign that loses a recount five days to challenge the results in court, meaning that the Trump campaign can still seek to challenge Evers’s move. In a statement Monday, the state elections administrator, Meagan Wolfe, said a judge could still order the certificate of ascertainment to be amended, should Trump win in court.

Legal experts, however, have said the Trump campaign’s legal arguments are thin and they will face an uphill battle in court. Evers’s speedy action could make success in court even more difficult for Trump because under federal law, the state has now completed the process of appointing electors.

By: Rosalind S. Helderman

6:00 PM: Grassley emphasizes that Senate must examine Yellen’s tax returns as part of confirmation process

a man wearing a suit and tie: Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) walks through the Capitol on Sept. 30. © Erin Scott/Reuters Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) walks through the Capitol on Sept. 30.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday that he thinks Janet Yellen, Biden’s choice for treasury secretary, “would get a favorable view” in the Senate, but noted that senators would need to review Yellen’s tax returns before arriving at a decision.

Grassley is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which is responsible for holding hearings on nominees for treasury secretary.

Grassley said his panel must examine Yellen’s tax returns and other financial information before he can make a determination, according to Bloomberg News.

Treasury secretary nominees are required to provide their tax returns to the Senate Finance Committee, whereas the Senate Banking Committee did not require those documents during the process of confirming Yellen to her previous position as Federal Reserve chair.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns during his four years as president. Grassley’s emphasis on the importance of Yellen’s tax returns comes just two months after the New York Times published a story based on documents that it said detailed Trump’s tax return data over the span of two decades. Grassley responded to the story by criticizing the anonymous individual who leaked the information.

“That information should have never gotten out, and whoever got it out violated the law,” Grassley said at the time. Among other things, the Times reported Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the same amount in 2017 and paid no taxes at all in several previous years.

By: Felicia Sonmez

5:53 PM: Biden’s pick to lead White House budget office emerges as lightning rod for GOP

President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the powerful White House budget office generated early controversy on Monday, with Neera Tanden emerging as an immediate target for conservatives and Republican lawmakers.

Tanden, 50, has regularly clashed with conservatives in a manner that Republicans say could complicate her Senate confirmation process. Two Republican senators on Monday said she could run into trouble during confirmation hearings, warning that her “partisan” background could make it hard for her to win Republican support.

“I’m not disqualifying anybody, but I do think it gets a lot harder obviously if they send someone from their progressive left that are kind of out of the mainstream,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters.

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s first budget director, told Fox News that Tanden had very little chance of being confirmed.

A loyal Democrat with decades of senior policymaking experience, Tanden has been tapped by Biden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which plays a crucial role in setting the president’s economic agenda and approving agency policies. She would be the first woman of color to lead the budget office.

She was a close ally of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and served as a senior adviser in President Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, where she helped draft the Affordable Care Act. She most recently served as president of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank with deep ties to Democratic policymakers. The OMB plays a pivotal role in the White House because of its role in setting the federal budget and clearing new regulations.

Read full report here.

By: Jeff Stein, Annie Linskey and Seung Min Kim

5:03 PM: Schumer says Senate should hold hearings on Biden nominees in January before inauguration

a man wearing a suit and tie: Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 17. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) holds a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 17.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday called for the Senate to hold hearings on Biden’s Cabinet nominees in January and begin voting to confirm them on Inauguration Day “and soon thereafter.”

Schumer’s remarks are likely to be met with resistance from Senate Republicans, some of whom have already sharply criticized Biden’s recent Cabinet choices.

After Trump’s election in 2016, the Republican-controlled Senate held confirmation hearings in January 2017 on more than a half-dozen of his Cabinet appointments. Two of them — Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly — were confirmed on the day of Trump’s inauguration.

“In the midst of this once-in-a-century crisis, it’s imperative the next administration can count on the Senate to confirm its Cabinet without delay,” Schumer said Monday, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: “The Senate should begin hearings on President-elect Biden’s nominees in January, immediately after the Georgia Senate elections, so that key Cabinet officials can be confirmed on Jan. 20 and soon thereafter, which is traditional for new presidents.”

The Georgia runoffs, scheduled for Jan. 5, will determine which party controls the Senate. Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) are facing challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

In his remarks Monday, Schumer also sought to contrast Biden’s early Cabinet choices with Trump’s nominees, who he described as “individuals who are manifestly unqualified, plagued by ethical complaints or swimming in conflicts of interest — sometimes all three.”

“At the time, Republicans in the Senate lined up to confirm President Trump’s appointments, arguing that a president deserves his Cabinet and broad deference on his nominees,” Schumer said. “I would hope the same deference will be extended to President-elect Biden’s nominees.”

Donna Cassata contribute to this report.

By: Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis

4:34 PM: Wisconsin election commission chair declares Biden winner in final step before vote is certified

The chairwoman of the Wisconsin Election Commission on Monday completed the state canvass of the Nov. 3 election and declared Biden the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes, the final step before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signs a certificate of ascertainment formalizing Biden’s victory.

Chairwoman Ann Jacobs, a Democrat, completed the process at a brief public ceremony, a day after the state’s two largest counties completed a recount that had been requested — and paid for — by Trump’s campaign. As a result of the recounts, Biden’s lead in the state of more than 20,000 votes grew by 74 votes.

In a statement, the state’s elections administrator, Meagan Wolfe, stressed that Monday’s actions did not amount to a certification of the results. Instead, she said the determination opened a five-day window that allows Trump to challenge Biden’s victory.

In a weekend tweet, Trump had said his campaign would file a lawsuit Monday or Tuesday arguing that the recount had included illegally cast ballots and that tens of thousands of ballots should be invalidated. During the recount, his lawyers had alleged no fraud or wrongdoing but had instead argued that election officials had misinterpreted state law in accepting the ballots in the first place. The rules they challenged were in place statewide and have been unchanged since before the 2016 election, which Trump won and did not contest.

Under Wisconsin law, the job of completing the state canvass falls to the chair of the six-member Elections Commission, a job that rotates among the members. Republicans on the panel had suggested they believed the full commission should also play a role, though it has not done so in past elections. The commission has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday. By acting in advance of that meeting, Jacobs has potentially forestalled efforts to delay the process.

By: Rosalind S. Helderman

3:57 PM: McConnell doesn’t mention presidential results, urges Democrats to compromise on covid relief

a man wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, wears a protective mask while departing from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Monday. © Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, wears a protective mask while departing from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Nearly four weeks after Election Day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has yet to publicly acknowledge Biden’s presidential victory.

In a nine-minute floor speech Monday afternoon, McConnell did not mention the presidential race, the transition to the Biden administration or any of Biden’s designated Cabinet nominees. Instead, he used the time to lambaste Democrats for refusing to accept GOP proposals for additional federal coronavirus aid.

The two parties have been at loggerheads for months over the parameters of a federal relief package, one that would extend and potentially expand on the $2 trillion Cares Act passed in March. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats negotiated with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin through the fall to no avail. McConnell called it part of a “cynical strategy” on Pelosi’s part to deny Republicans credit ahead of the election.

“But their all or nothing obstruction backfired — Democrats did not pick up seats in the House but instead appear to have lost seats,” McConnell said Monday. “They have not gained any leverage; instead they have lost leverage.”

Now, he added, “Let’s hope our colleagues at the top of the Democratic Party can finally hear their own members and stop blocking the common-sense, multi-hundred-billion-dollar measures that Republicans have been ready to deliver for months.”

Laying out the agenda for the final weeks of the 116th Congress, McConnell cited the need not only for a covid package but also a government spending deal, a defense authorization bill, and the need to confirm additional Trump nominees, “especially on the federal bench.”

He did not note that the Senate’s ability to confirm Republican nominees is nearing an end.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking after McConnell, said “the desperate needs of the country are beyond the small list that Republicans might support.”

“Both sides must give,” he said. “We need a true bipartisan bill, not: ‘This is our bill, take it or leave it.’”

By: Mike DeBonis

3:13 PM: Supreme Court leery of Trump’s bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from congressional reapportionment

a large clock tower next to a body of water: The Supreme Court. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg) © Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg The Supreme Court. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

Some Supreme Court justices on Monday seemed skeptical of Trump’s claim that he has the authority to exclude all undocumented immigrants from population totals deciding congressional reapportionment. But they also wondered whether a definitive answer is needed now.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among those wondering whether the court should wait to see whether the Census Bureau can even produce useful numbers about the undocumented population, or whether they would make a difference when deciding the size of each state’s congressional delegation.

“All of these questions would be resolved” by waiting, Roberts said.

Read the full story

By: Robert Barnes

2:29 PM: What we know about absentee ballot requests for Georgia runoffs

With 36 days to go before the Georgia Senate runoffs, the secretary of state’s office said about 934,000 absentee ballots have been requested, about 70 percent of the 1.3 million requests received by Sept. 28, the same number of days before the general election.

The office had released data on about 900,000 of those requests as of Sunday night. A higher percentage of those who have requested runoff absentee ballots are White than in the 2020 general election. So far, 30 percent of voters who have requested absentee ballots are Black, 54 percent are White, 2.6 percent are Asian American, 2.7 percent are Hispanic and nearly 9 percent are of unknown race. In the general, 32 percent of absentee voters were Black, 50 percent White, 3.6 percent Asian American, 4 percent Hispanic and 8 percent are of unknown race.

Those voters who have requested absentee ballots are also older than in November. The median age is 69 years, and only 6.4 percent are under the age of 30. In November, the median age was 61 years and 14 percent were under the age of 30.

Of those who requested absentee ballots, 92 percent voted in the general election; of those who did not, nearly all had requested an absentee ballot but never returned it. For the general election, 33 percent of absentee ballot requesters had not voted in Georgia in the 2016 election; so far for the runoff, that figure is 27 percent.

By: Lenny Bronner

1:51 PM: Georgia secretary of state calls those trying to overturn the election results ‘dishonest actors’

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that those trying to overturn the election results in the state are “dishonest actors” spreading “massive amounts of disinformation” — and he assured the public that a recount requested by the Trump campaign would wrap up by its Wednesday deadline just shy of midnight.

Raffensperger stopped short of calling Trump one of the “bad actors” he mentioned, using that phrase instead to describe those advising the president to continue his unfounded campaign to refute his loss to Biden.

But his views on Trump’s false claims — that tens of thousands of votes in Georgia were flipped from Trump to Biden, or were counted despite nonmatching signatures on the ballot envelope — came through unmistakably.

“The truth matters, especially around election administration,” Raffensperger said.

The secretary of state also said that his office is investigating multiple allegations of fraud, including several accusations that voter-registration groups illegally targeted dead people or those from out of state to urge participation in the upcoming Senate runoffs Jan. 5. He noted that moving to Georgia just to vote in the runoffs is a felony.

“We have to remain vigilant,” he said. He did not offer specific evidence that any group knowingly registered an ineligible voter, but said that one group has encouraged college students to change their voter registration to Georgia, then move it back again after the runoffs.

“Encouraging college students to commit a felony is despicable,” he said.

A top Raffensperger aide, Gabe Sterling, told reporters that about 934,000 Georgians have requested absentee ballots in the Senate runoffs, slightly more than half the total number of ballots requested in the Nov. 3 election, with five more weeks to go.

Sterling had even harsher words for the conspiracy theories floated by Trump about Biden’s roughly 12,000-vote victory in Georgia, including a baseless allegation that Dominion Voting Systems rigged its machines to elect Biden.

“They’re insanity. Fever dream. Made up. Internet cabal,” Sterling said.

By: Amy Gardner

12:50 PM: Dominion CEO pushes back on ‘lies and smears’ of Trump and his allies about its voting machines

John Poulos, president and chief executive of Dominion Voting Systems, pushed back in an op-ed published Monday on the “lies and smears” pushed by Trump and his allies about voting machines manufactured by the company helping deliver the election to Biden.

“The wild allegations of recent weeks have fueled the harassment of election officials and Dominion employees across the country — including stalking and death threats,” Poulos wrote in the piece published by the Wall Street Journal. “The lies and smears have no basis in fact, but they do real damage to our democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process.”

In the op-ed, Poulos specifically denied a litany of claims repeated by Trump’s legal team and other allies of the president.

“The allegations against Dominion are bizarre, but I’ll set the record straight,” he said. “Dominion is an American company, now headquartered in Denver. Dominion is not and has never been a front for communists. It has no ties to Hugo Chávez, the late dictator of Venezuela. It has never been involved in Venezuelan elections. None of Dominion’s systems use the Smartmatic software that has come under attack, as any state certification lab could verify. There is no secret ‘vote flipping’ algorithm.”

By: John Wagner

12:00 PM: Kemp suggests Trump is asking him to illegally interfere in Georgia’s election

Brian P. Kemp wearing a suit and tie: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) holds a news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta. © Ben@bengray.Com/AP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) holds a news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Monday pushed back on exhortations by President Trump, suggesting that the president was asking him to interfere in the Nov. 3 election in a way prohibited by state law.

“Georgia law prohibits the Governor from interfering in elections,” Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said in a statement. “The Secretary of State, who is an elected Constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order.”

The statement followed a tweet earlier Monday in which Trump called Kemp “hapless” and questioned why he hadn’t used “emergency powers” to force Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to match signatures on mail-in ballots to signatures on the envelopes in which they were received.

Trump has maintained, without foundation, that such an exercise would demonstrate widespread fraud, while Raffensperger has said it is impractical, given that ballots were separated from envelopes during counting. He has also said repeatedly that he has seen no evidence of widespread fraud.

In a letter Monday, Trump’s campaign said it was making its fifth request to the state for a signature-matching audit.

During a television interview on Sunday, Trump took aim at Kemp, saying: “The governor’s done nothing. He has done absolutely nothing. I’m ashamed that I endorsed him.”

In his statement Monday, Kemp’s spokesman said the governor would “continue to follow the law” but also encouraged Raffensperger to do a more limited audit comparing signatures on envelopes to signatures on voter applications on file with the state.

That, Hall said, could help “restore trust and address serious issues that have been raised.”

By: John Wagner

11:48 AM: Ajit Pai announces he’ll leave the FCC

Ajit Pai wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai testifies during a Senate hearing in June. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) FCC Chairman Ajit Pai testifies during a Senate hearing in June. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans on Monday to step down from his post next year, capping a four-year stint atop the nation’s telecom agency that had been marked with contentious fights over his ambitious deregulatory agenda.

Trump tapped Pai, then a Republican commissioner, to serve as his first and only FCC chairman starting in 2017. Pai ultimately presided over some of the agency’s most controversial decisions, including its highly contested effort three years ago to roll back net neutrality rules that had required Internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally.

His departure — widely expected, and timed to coincide with Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 — is set to unleash a wave of uncertainty at the FCC as the new administration takes shape. Biden can tap an acting chairperson from the agency’s two Democratic members once he takes the White House as he decides on a more permanent leader, which may require Senate confirmation. But it seems increasingly likely that the FCC will be deadlocked at two Democrats and two Republicans, perhaps delaying the incoming, Biden-era commission from acting on its agenda.

Read the full story

By: Tony Romm

11:33 AM: Analysis: Trump relies on right-wing cable news to launder his false claims about fraud

In the years-long competition among Fox employees to demonstrate the most obsequiousness to Trump, it seemed unlikely that anyone might be able to surpass Sean Hannity’s robust lead. Maria Bartiromo, though, is making a late charge.

She was always in the running, of course. An interview she conducted with Trump in April 2019 was in the style of a sixth-grader interviewing her loquacious parent for a Career Day assignment. A month before the election, she let Trump ramble for an hour about the risks posed by mail-in voting, an obviously false argument that Bartiromo did literally nothing to contest.

In an interview Sunday, though, things were quite different: Bartiromo let Trump delineate his nonsensical claims about purported fraud for only about 45 minutes.

Her first question did nothing more than tee up Trump’s utterly baseless allegations that somehow he won the 2020 presidential contest.

Read the full story

By: Philip Bump

10:46 AM: Analysis: After pardoning turkey, Trump moves ahead with lifting bird protections

A few days after pardoning a turkey for Thanksgiving, Trump is moving forward with giving a reprieve to oil producers, electric utilities and other companies that accidentally kill birds.

Trump officials took another step toward easing fines for “incidental” death or harm to birds under regulations set by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

While few were paying attention the Friday after Thanksgiving, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published an analysis saying the change “would not cause unacceptable environmental harm.”

Trimming the wings of the 102-year-old law is just one of several regulatory actions the administration is aiming to accomplish before its exit. The Trump administration is expected to finalize easing fines before Jan. 20.

Read the full story

By: Dino Grandoni

10:06 AM: Biden formally unveils economic team, including Tanden and Yellen

Neera Tanden standing in front of a stage: Neera Tanden is President-elect Joe Biden's choice to head the Office of Management and Budget. © Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images Neera Tanden is President-elect Joe Biden's choice to head the Office of Management and Budget.

Biden on Monday formally announced his economic team, including plans to nominate Neera Tanden, the chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and economist Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary.

If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to lead the Treasury Department and Tanden, whose parents emigrated from India, would be the first woman of color to oversee that agency.

Biden’s announcement included names that had surfaced in news reports in recent days.

He said he would appoint Princeton University labor economist Cecilia Rouse as chair of the three-member Council of Economic Advisers, with economists Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey serving as the other members.

Rouse, who is African American, would be the first woman of color to chair the council, which will play a key role in advising the president on the economy, ailing since the pandemic struck the country and threw tens of millions out of work.

Biden also announced plans to nominate Wally Adeyemo, an expert on macroeconomic policy with previous federal government experience, as deputy treasury secretary.

By: John Wagner and Jeff Stein

9:39 AM: Trump says he’s fighting not for himself, but for those who cast ballots for him

Donald Trump et al. standing on top of a grass covered field: President Trump walks on the South Lawn with his grandchildren as they arrive at the White House from Camp David on Sunday. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post) President Trump walks on the South Lawn with his grandchildren as they arrive at the White House from Camp David on Sunday. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

Trump continued to lash out Monday over the election results, including at Republican officials in Georgia, claiming that he was doing so not for himself but for the nearly 74 million Americans who cast ballots for him.

“I’m not fighting for me, I’m fighting for the 74,000,000 million people (not including the many Trump ballots that were “tossed”), a record for a sitting President, who voted for me!” Trump said in a morning tweet, citing no evidence for his claim that many ballots cast for him were discarded.

Biden currently leads Trump in the popular vote count, 80.1 million to 73.9 million.

In other tweets, Trump took aim at Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, for not supporting his baseless fraud claims.

"Why won’t Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes, Trump tweeted. “It will be a ‘goldmine’ of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state.”

Georgia has already certified its results, which were signed by Kemp. Raffensperger has repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

Trump is advocating for matching signatures on mail-in ballots to the envelopes in which they were received. Georgia officials say that is no longer possible because they were separated during the counting process.

By: John Wagner

9:19 AM: Mark Kelly expected to be sworn in as senator from Arizona on Wednesday

a man holding a sign: Mark Kelly (D) speaks at an election watch party in Tucson, on Nov. 3. © Cheney Orr/Reuters Mark Kelly (D) speaks at an election watch party in Tucson, on Nov. 3.

Democrat Mark Kelly, who defeated Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in a special election on Nov. 3, will be sworn in on Wednesday, according to a senior Democratic Senate aide.

Kelly’s win is expected to become official later Monday when Arizona certifies its election results, including Biden’s win in the presidential contest.

Kelly’s swearing-in ceremony is planned for noon on Wednesday, according to the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss plans that have not been publicly announced.

McSally, a former congresswoman, has been holding the Senate seat on a temporary basis. She was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in December after Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) announced his resignation. Kyl had been appointed to temporarily fill the seat of the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).

By: John Wagner

8:58 AM: Biden taps Delaware ally to lead his presidential inauguration committee

a group of people in front of a building: Scaffolding is built at the U.S. Capitol as construction for the 2021 presidential inaugural platform continues. © Katherine Frey/The Washington Post Scaffolding is built at the U.S. Capitol as construction for the 2021 presidential inaugural platform continues.

Biden’s presidential inauguration committee will be led by Tony Allen, a close Biden ally and the president of Delaware State University, a historically Black university.

The presidential inauguration committee, known to Washington insiders simply as “the PIC,” raises money and coordinates plans for the inauguration.

This year’s events will probably be much different than four years ago due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus — and crowds will probably be quite limited.

The PIC team is also set to include Maju Varghese, a former Obama administration official, who will be the executive director.

Erin Wilson, who worked on Biden’s campaign and was a staffer for Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), will serve as a deputy executive director. Nevada state Sen. Yvanna Cancela (D) will be the other deputy executive director.

The Biden team also unveiled a new website for the inauguration: BidenInaugural.org.

Biden’s team issued the news via an early-morning news release. It was embargoed until 8:46 a.m. — an unusual time to make news public and a choice that pays homage to Biden’s upcoming status as the 46th president.

By: Annie Linskey

8:36 AM: Record Asian American turnout helped Biden win Georgia. Can it help flip the Senate?

a person standing in front of a statue: The Georgia Democratic candidates for Senate, Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff, right, gesture toward a crowd during a Nov. 15 campaign rally in Marietta, Ga. © Brynn Anderson/AP The Georgia Democratic candidates for Senate, Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff, right, gesture toward a crowd during a Nov. 15 campaign rally in Marietta, Ga.

When Long Tran, a liberal organizer of Vietnamese descent, hosted a meet-and-greet for Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff in early 2017, he was hoping in part to engage more Asian Americans like himself in politics.

Not a single other Asian person showed up to his event.

Nearly four years later, that has dramatically changed. Georgia’s hand recount and vote certification confirmed that Asian American and Pacific Islander voters — who make up the fastest-growing demographic in Georgia — helped swing the state for the Democrats for the first time since 1992.

Read the full story

By: Amy B Wang

8:06 AM: Analysis: The election is over, but the challenges aren’t quite

Trump has not yet conceded defeat, days after allowing Biden to officially start his transition. Supporters inside his party, from Congress to state legislatures, continue to suggest that courts could toss out enough ballots for Trump to stay in office, even after dozens of legal defeats.

The election is over, but the president’s supporters are still mounting challenges. If you logged off for a few days, here’s what you missed.

Read the full story

By: David Weigel

7:34 AM: Arizona expected to certify results Monday, declaring Biden the winner

Arizona is expected to certify its election results on Monday, becoming the latest state to make a Biden win official even as Trump continues to push baseless allegations of widespread fraud.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said in a news release that the results will be certified at 11 a.m. local time (1 p.m. Eastern time). Biden received about 10,500 more votes than Trump in Arizona, according to a final tally.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) acknowledged in a radio interview last week that Trump’s legal challenges were ongoing but said that Biden was the victor in Arizona.

“I’ve said several times: Arizona is a good-government state,” Ducey said. “I trust our election system. There’s integrity in our election system. Joe Biden did win Arizona.”

With the certification of results, Democrat Mark Kelly is also expected to prevail in the Senate race against Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.).

By: John Wagner

7:03 AM: Liberal groups urge Biden not to name Flournoy as secretary of defense

Michèle Flournoy who is smiling and looking at the camera: In this 2011 photo, then-Defense Undersecretary Michèle Flournoy, prepares for a bilateral meeting in Beijing. © Andy Wong/AP In this 2011 photo, then-Defense Undersecretary Michèle Flournoy, prepares for a bilateral meeting in Beijing.

A coalition of liberal political groups is pressuring Biden not to choose defense expert Michèle Flournoy as secretary of defense, arguing that the Obama administration veteran could push for a “potentially catastrophic” military confrontation with China.

RootsAction, Code Pink and other liberal organizations released a statement Monday opposing Flournoy, long considered Biden’s most likely choice as Pentagon chief. Biden did not name anyone to the Defense Department post when he rolled out other national security advisers last week, amid questions about whether he had settled on Flournoy.

“We urge President-Elect Joe Biden and U.S. Senators to choose a Secretary of Defense who is unencumbered by a history of advocating for bellicose military policies and is free of financial ties to the weapons industry,” the statement said. “Michèle Flournoy does not meet those qualifications and is ill-suited to serve as Secretary of Defense.”

The liberal groups cited Flournoy’s support for a troop surge in Afghanistan and for U.S. military deployments or action in Syria and Libya, “policies resulting in geopolitical disasters and tremendous human suffering.”

The statement also criticized Flournoy for other policy positions and accused her of “ramping up a Cold War with China.”

“Flournoy’s approach to China is potentially catastrophic,” the groups wrote. The statement cited congressional testimony earlier this year in which Flournoy warned that the United States risks losing its strategic military advantage against China.

The United States should project massive military capability as a deterrent and should be planning now for what that might entail, she said. Flournoy cited, as one potential example, an analysis of what U.S. capabilities would be required “to credibly threaten to sink 300 military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships within 72 hours.”

“Such a capability would certainly pose a fundamental dilemma for any great power contemplating aggression, forcing them to consider whether it’s worth putting their entire fleet at risk,” Flournoy told the House Armed Services Committee in January.

Although Flournoy’s testimony also recommended finding ways to cooperate with China on global problems, the liberal groups said her posture was too warlike.

“At a time when we must work with China to fight the coronavirus and save the planet from an existential climate crisis, Flournoy’s approach would undermine such efforts by preparing for war with China,” they wrote.

The Washington Post obtained an advance copy of the statement, in which the groups threatened to lobby senators against confirming Flournoy, should Biden nominate her.

RootsAction.org has a 1.2 million active list of supporters in the U.S., and we’re geared up for an all-out push for a ‘no’ vote, if it comes to that,” said Norman Solomon, national director of that organization.

The statement was also signed by Progressive Democrats of America, Code Pink, World Beyond War and Our Revolution.

It follows statements of support last week from Flournoy by some Democrats, including Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who sits on the Armed Services Committee, and members of other liberal-leaning groups. Speier noted that Flournoy would make history as the first female defense chief.

By: Anne Gearan

6:57 AM: Biden to receive first Presidential Daily Brief as he continues to roll out his team

Joe Biden holding a sign: President-elect Joe Biden gives a pre-Thanksgiving speech at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post President-elect Joe Biden gives a pre-Thanksgiving speech at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris on Monday are scheduled to receive their national intelligence briefing, known as the Presidential Daily Brief, as they push forward with formally announcing key members of the administration, including an economic team.

The briefings are among the activities that were delayed by the refusal of the Trump administration to sign off on the start of the formal transition until last week.

Biden plans to meet with advisers following his briefing on Monday, his transition team said.

He is also expected this week to continue rolling out key figures in his incoming administration, including members of his economic team, some of whose names leaked to the press in recent days.

Biden is expected to nominate Neera Tanden, chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, as director of the influential Office of Management and Budget, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the nominations freely. Tanden, whose parents immigrated from India, would be the first woman of color to oversee the agency.

The president-elect will also appoint Princeton University labor economist Cecilia Rouse as chair of the three-member Council of Economic Advisers, with economists Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey serving as the other members.

Rouse, who is African American, would be the first woman of color to chair the council, which will play a key role in advising the president on an economy that has been ailing since the pandemic struck the country, throwing tens of millions out of work.

Biden earlier named economist Janet L. Yellen as his treasury secretary.

By: John Wagner and Jeff Stein

6:53 AM: A push for legislative intervention in Pennsylvania appears to collapse

An attempt by some Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature to intervene in the state’s certification of Biden as the winner appears to have collapsed over the weekend, with the leaders of the House and Senate saying there is no time to pursue that course.

The group of GOP lawmakers had crafted a resolution urging the state’s governor and secretary of state to rescind their certification of Biden’s win, in hopes that the General Assembly could then appoint its own pro-Trump electors.

In a statement late Saturday, Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, both Republicans, said they are “physically unable to consider any new legislation before the end of session,” slated for Monday.

“A simple resolution takes three legislative days for consideration and a concurrent resolution takes five legislative days to move through both chambers, which means we do not have the time needed to address any new resolutions in our current session,” the statement said.

The legislative leaders did allow that work on the election process was needed in the future.

“It is obvious Pennsylvania’s election processes are in dire need of repair,” they said. “Our work to ensure the chaos and confusion of the 2020 election are not repeated will continue in the next legislative session.”

By: John Wagner

6:43 AM: Biden injures foot while playing with his dog, will probably need walking boot

Joe Biden standing on a sidewalk: In this 2018 photo, former vice president Joe Biden appears with his newly adopted German shepherd Major, in Wilmington, Del. © Stephanie Carter/AP In this 2018 photo, former vice president Joe Biden appears with his newly adopted German shepherd Major, in Wilmington, Del.

Biden injured his right foot while playing with his dog and will probably require a walking boot for several weeks, his doctor said Sunday.

Biden, 78, slipped Saturday while playing with his dog Major, one of his two German shepherds, his office said.

Late Sunday afternoon, Biden visited Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists in Newark, Del., about a half-hour from his home near Wilmington. After spending about two hours there, Biden traveled to a nearby imaging facility to have a CT scan. A photojournalist traveling with the press pool observed him walking with a limp.

A follow-up scan confirmed hairline fractures in Biden’s lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, in his right mid-foot, according to his physician, Kevin O’Connor.

Read the full story

By: Amy B Wang

6:40 AM: Trump lashes out as former top DHS official reasserts that election was ‘secure’

a man wearing a suit and tie: Christopher Krebs, then director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, testifies in 2019 at a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on election security. © Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Christopher Krebs, then director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, testifies in 2019 at a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on election security.

In his first interview after Trump fired him from his post leading the Department of Homeland Security’s effort to help to secure the Nov. 3 elections, Christopher Krebs reaffirmed on Sunday that there was no evidence of voter fraud and that the integrity of the elections was not compromised.

“There is no foreign power that is flipping votes. There’s no domestic actor flipping votes. I did it right. We did it right,” Krebs told CBS News’s Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes.” “This was a secure election.”

Trump vehemently disagreed, turning to his Twitter feed late Sunday to excoriate Krebs and the news program, and reassert his unfounded claims that the election he lost was “probably our least secure EVER!

“NO WAY WE LOST THIS ELECTION!” tweeted Trump, again without evidence, in another claim marked as “disputed” on Twitter.

Read the full story

By: Jaclyn Peiser

6:36 AM: With Maria Bartiromo as his first post-election interviewer, Trump found a sympathetic ear and few questions

Maria Bartiromo et al. standing in front of a cake: "Sunday Morning Futures" host Maria Bartiromo conducted President Trump's first post-election interview. (Andrew Harnik/AP) © Andrew Harnik/AP "Sunday Morning Futures" host Maria Bartiromo conducted President Trump's first post-election interview. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Nearly four weeks after Fox News drew the ire of Trump by becoming the first network to project his loss in Arizona, he gave his first post-election interview to one of the network’s hosts, declaring that the election was “rigged” and “a fraud.”

Trump broke his relative silence by calling in to Maria Bartiromo’s “Sunday Morning Futures” for 45 minutes. It was a major exclusive that he handed to Bartiromo, a veteran financial journalist who has emerged over the past four years as one of the biggest backers of Trump’s presidency within the Fox News Media corporate ecosystem. And in doing so, he bypassed superfans on upstart networks like Newsmax and One America News, which are trying to eat into Fox’s dominance in conservative media — with the help of Trump’s cheerleading on Twitter.

But Bartiromo’s questions were few and far between. Trump spoke for much of the interview, which ran so long that her other scheduled guest, Fox News contributor Ken Starr, was given only two minutes to appear at the end of the show.

Read the full story

By: Jeremy Barr

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