Politics News


(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, 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.


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.


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.


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.



(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.



(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.


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.


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.


Official White House Photo by Andrea HanksBy JORDYN PHELPS, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- While President Donald Trump continues to resist the American tradition of conceding his election defeat, he will take part in another time-honored tradition Tuesday: Pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

The annual event typically serves as a light-hearted reprieve from the partisan rancor of Washington, with the president delivering remarks stuffed with bad puns and concluding with a playful pardon of a turkey.

This year, the atmosphere surrounding Tuesday’s pardon is notably more subdued. The president has largely remained out of public view since his election defeat, not taking a single question from reporters in the three weeks since and has instead fired off angry missives on Twitter falsely claiming he won the election.

He has also largely ignored the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country, holding one event touting progress with vaccines while failing to acknowledge the U.S. COVID-19 death toll passing 250,000.

Ahead of Tuesday’s event, the president made a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room, where he delivered remarks for just 63 seconds to tout the stock market and vaccine progress before promptly departing without taking questions.

In the first major sign of the president accepting the reality of his defeat, the Trump administration on Monday formally recognized the Biden transition, freeing up government resources and outgoing and incoming teams to coordinate. The president subsequently tweeted that the cooperation did not amount to a concession.

Despite the president's relatively quiet public presence since the election -- most days, he has had nothing on his public schedule, and he has spent his weekends golfing -- he made an exception for the annual turkey-pardoning tradition.

This year’s turkeys are named Corn and Cob and they hail from a farm in Iowa.

The White House has posted a poll on Twitter, asking people to vote for which turkey they’d prefer to take the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey. As of noon on Tuesday, Corn had a nearly eight-point lead on Cobb in the poll.

It remained to be seen if the president would honor the unofficial poll in choosing which bird to officially pardon this year.

But as the president now contests the results of his own election loss, a joke he made during the 2018 turkey pardon has taken on new meaning. At the time, the president joked that the losing turkey, Carrots, was refusing to concede defeat and was contesting the election results.

“The winner of this vote was decided by a fair and open election conducted on the White House website. This was a fair election,” the president joked to laughter. “Unfortunately, Carrots refused to concede and demanded a recount, and we’re still fighting with Carrots.”

“I will tell you, we’ve come to a conclusion: Carrots, I’m sorry to tell you, the result did not change. It’s too bad for Carrots,” the president joked.

But while only one turkey wins the official title of National Thanksgiving Turkey each year, the reality is that neither turkey will lose its life as a result of the White House ceremony.

Both lucky birds will instead go to Virginia Tech University, where they will live out the remainder of their natural lives at a facility known as “Gobbler’s Rest” like the National Thanksgiving Turkeys that have gone before them.

The tradition of the president pardoning a turkey can be traced back as far as President Abraham Lincoln, who spared a turkey from becoming the family's Christmas meal at the intervention of his son.

But the tradition of the formal turkey pardoning, as we know it today, didn't start in earnest until President George H.W. Bush in 1989, who jokingly passed down a pardon to the turkey presented to him as animal rights activists protested nearby, according to the White House Historical Association.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name Janet Yellen as his pick for treasury secretary, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen, 74, will be the first woman to hold the top job.

Biden's selection of Yellen is a signal of stability at a time of economic fragility amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Having previously led the Federal Reserve, Yellen will bring her deep background of experience to the top job at the Treasury Department and will require no on-the-job training.

Yellen will have to hit the ground running on her first day in the job, as one of Biden's first tasks upon taking office will likely be resurrecting and passing a coronavirus relief package that has for months been stalled on Capitol Hill, as the nation continues to struggle economically amid the ongoing pandemic.

Yellen is seen as a consensus candidate, who is viewed as palatable within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and is not expected to face strong opposition from Republicans in a Senate confirmation process.

At least one Republican economist has already praised the choice of Yellen. President Donald Trump's former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn extended his congratulations on Twitter.

"Janet Yellen is an excellent choice for Treasury Secretary. Having had the opportunity to work with then-Chair Yellen, I have no doubt she will be the steady hand we need to promote an economy that works for everyone, especially during these difficult times," Cohn wrote.

Yellen served as the chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018 and was replaced after one term on the job by Trump, who installed current chair Jerome Powell in her place.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Joe Biden rolled out his first Cabinet nominations Monday afternoon, a history-making group of advisers who will help guide his administration's foreign policy and national security agenda, including the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security and the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence.

Biden announced his plans to nominate a slate of close advisers and former Obama administration officials to fill key roles in his cabinet, including former Deputy Director of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the department, along with former Deputy national security adviser and Deputy CIA Director Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Jake Sullivan, a longtime Biden aide who served as national security adviser to Biden as vice president, will take on the same title -- but now to a President Biden.

Biden's longtime foreign policy adviser Antony Blinken will also be nominated to serve as secretary of state and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat, was chosen as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. ABC News previously reported the two were expected to fill the roles.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry will also have a role in the Biden administration. Kerry, who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Accord and often appeared as a surrogate for Biden in the 2020 campaign, will serve as a special presidential envoy for climate -- a new top-level role.

Today, I’m announcing the first members of my national security and foreign policy team. They will rally the world to take on our challenges like no other—challenges that no one nation can face alone.

It’s time to restore American leadership. I trust this group to do just that.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 23, 2020

"We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy. I need a team ready on Day One to help me reclaim America's seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity and values. This is the crux of that team," Biden said in a statement announcing the nominations.

Biden's slate of nominees feature a diverse set of backgrounds -- a nod to Biden's long-held commitment to create an administration that "looks like America."

"These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative. Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits -- or without diversity of background and perspective. It's why I've selected them," Biden said in a statement announcing his nominations.

Mayorkas, who was born in Cuba and came as a refugee to the United States with his family when he was a baby, would be the first Latino and immigrant nominated to lead DHS, the agency that oversees immigration and border policies.

"When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge," Mayorkas said in a tweet reacting to his nomination. "Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones."

When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

— Alejandro Mayorkas (@AliMayorkas) November 23, 2020

Haines, too, will make history as the first woman tapped for the top position in the Intelligence community.

Thomas-Greenfield is the second African American woman to be nominated as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, which Biden will elevate to a Cabinet position in his administration. Trump's first U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley was a member of his Cabinet, but the position was demoted with current ambassador Kelly Craft -- a move both Presidents Bush made as well.

"My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I've carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service -- and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations," Thomas-Greenfield tweeted Monday.

The career diplomat previously served as the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, U.S. ambassador to Liberia and director-general of the Foreign Service, whose rank and file have enthusiastically supported her nomination -- the first Foreign Service officer in the prominent diplomatic role since 2004.

The picks also signal the importance of the foreign policy and national security will play in a Biden administration -- something the president-elect previewed during the campaign discussing the need to restore America's standing on the world stage after four years of the Trump administration. When asked Monday why he decided to roll out his national security team first, Biden told reporters "because it's national security."

In July, Blinken said the "first step" of a Biden presidency would be "revitalizing these (U.S.) alliances, revitalizing these partnerships, reasserting that America values them and that we want to be engaged in them or with them to work together to tackle these hard problems."

A close Biden confidante and Kerry's deputy at the State Department, Blinken is seen as a calm, collegial diplomat who's won praise from Democrats and some Republicans. But his confirmation as deputy secretary was a close vote, with only two Republican senators supporting him -- and he's already seen some criticism from progressives for his consulting business during the Trump years.

Still, he has the ingredients to make a strong top U.S. diplomat, according to Richard Haass, who served at the agency under several Republican presidents: "A relationship with his boss that allows him to speak truth to power and the authority to speak for his boss," as well as "knowledge of the issues and the State Department."

The announcement of Kerry's role, especially as a member of the National Security Council, also signals the significant focus Biden is expected to put on climate change as a national security threat and economic opportunity.

Kerry, who succeeded Biden as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made climate change his defining issue, especially after helping to negotiate the Paris climate accord, which Trump formally withdrew the U.S. from the day after the 2020 elections.

"I'm returning to government to get America back on track to address the biggest challenge of this generation and those that will follow. The climate crisis demands nothing less than all hands on deck," Kerry tweeted Monday.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


richjem/iStockBy QUINN SCANLAN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Beginning at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Georgia's 159 counties can start recounting the approximately five million votes cast in the presidential race after the Trump campaign requested a machine recount. But while they're tasked with finishing this third count by midnight Dec. 2, the secretary of state's office is urging counties not to sacrifice accuracy for speed.

"Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. You don't want to rush yourself and cause mistakes and errors that you have to go back and fix ... the smoother you do this, the better off you're going to be," Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting system implementation manager, said in a virtual news conference Monday.

Since the recount must be open to the public and monitors from political parties, counties are required to post notice about when they will be scanning ballots on their website, their physical office locations and by notifying the secretary of state's office.

While parties are allowed to designate monitors to observe the recount, "ballots cannot be contested in this process," Sterling said.

Georgia has already completed an unprecedented by hand audit of every ballot cast in the presidential contest, which reaffirmed that President-elect Joe Biden is the first Democrat to win Georgia's electoral votes since 1992. The state's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, and governor, Brian Kemp, certified the election Friday afternoon. On Saturday, the Trump campaign requested a recount, which they were entitled to since the margin between Biden and Trump was still less than 0.5% of all votes cast in the race.

The Trump campaign and Republican allies of the president have asserted, without presenting evidence, that there has been widespread voter fraud and that the signature verification process for absentee ballots in Georgia was done improperly. When announcing that the campaign requested a recount, the president's legal team said that if signature verification is not done again, the recount would be a "sham."

Signature verification has already been done twice -- upon receipt of a voter's application for an absentee ballot and upon receipt of the ballot. State law doesn't allow for signature verification to be done again as part of the recount, just as it wasn't done as part of the audit.

Not only is there not a legal process in place to do this, Sterling said, but it's physically impossible to tie a voted absentee ballot back to a voter's original envelope, which is where the signature is.

"There's no way to match (the ballot) back. The only remedy would be to throw out all absentee ballots ... in a particular county," Sterling said. "I don't think there's a judge in the land that would throw out all those legally cast votes if there's proof of a handful of illegally cast ones potentially, which, again, we've seen no proof or evidence that actually exists."

He noted that in prior legal challenges across the country, the solution of disqualifying troves of absentee ballots has been deemed "too severe."

Sterling said repeatedly Monday that the secretary of state's office has not seen any specific evidence of problems with the absentee ballot signature match process, and because of this, it would create a "bad precedent" to pursue a "generalized grievance afterwards that there may have been an issue because the person that I wanted to win didn't."

Additionally, he said that under state law, the entire absentee ballot process -- including signature verification -- is required to be open to the public, which includes observers from political parties, but only one party in one county actually took the opportunity to do this.

"There's no specific evidence that anybody's brought to us that anybody had done anything wrong (with signature verification)," Sterling said. "Both parties had the opportunity to view this in real time when it was being done. Both of them made, I assume, a decision that they didn't need to do that -- and that's unfortunate now that they now believe that there might have been an issue."

While doing the recount, county election officials must keep ballots separated by type: absentee-by-mail ballots, early in-person ballots, Election Day ballots and provisional ballots. This is necessary because the state must certify election results at the precinct level and the results of this recount are what will be certified.

The ballots will be fed through high-capacity scanners, which Sterling said could each process approximately 16,000 ballots in a day. Every county has at least one of these scanners. The largest county, Fulton, has seven, but Sterling said they are trying to deploy more.

To ensure the scanners are working properly, election officials will create a "test deck" of 100 ballots, which should be made up of approximately 75 ballots created from the touchscreen voting machines and 25 hand-marked absentee ballots. The test deck will be run through the scanner to ensure it is working properly since officials know what the results of the test deck should be.

Unlike the statewide audit, where results were held until every county had completely finished, county-level results can be released while the recount is ongoing.

Sterling said that when counties finish their work, they will report their vote totals to the secretary of state's office and then those totals will be uploaded to a new election results reporting page, which is currently being built.

"It's not going to be like on election night when you're getting partial results as you go through the night. It's basically going to be, here's everything from one county, here's everything from another county. That's the way it looks like it's going to be right now," Sterling said, adding that while there isn't anything preventing partial results being reported from one county, it's "a lot safer and easier" to not do that.

The specifics are still being worked out, but Sterling said the secretary's office may upload results twice a day.

Election workers were required to begin with the hand-marked absentee ballots during the audit, but starting with those ballots is only a suggestion to counties for the recount.

Counties will need to have the adjudication teams in place when those ballots, which account for approximately 25% of all ballots, are being re-scanned, which is why this is only a recommendation since some counties may not be able to convene these by Tuesday.

The adjudication teams are made up of one Republican, one Democrat and one election worker. These teams of people are who look at ballots where the scanner cannot clearly ascertain what the voter's intent was. Together, they decide the voter's intent and the majority's opinion prevails.

Sterling said that this human-driven process is where there is the greatest opportunity to see a change in results, but he added that "99 times out of 100, when we've seen adjudication, everybody knows what the voter intended on these things, so there's very rarely anything's really contentious on that front."

The secretary of state's office does not expect this recount to change the outcome of the election.

"The possibility of it changing, you know, it's 2020, you never know, crazy things happen but the likelihood is very low. We don't expect it to change, but you never know for certain," Sterling said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Heidi Gutman/ABC News


(WASHINGTON) -- General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy on Tuesday gave President-elect Joe Biden's team approval to begin the formal transition process, 16 days after he clinched the presidency.

The green light came as President Donald Trump said he recommended the move, despite Murphy's insistence that she acted independently and was never pressured by the White House.

"I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same," he tweeted shortly after GSA released its letter to the Biden team.

...fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020

Murphy's letter to Biden acknowledging his victory unlocks more than $7 million for Biden's team and allows his top advisers to begin outreach to counterparts with every federal agency preparing for the transfer of power. Biden and his aides had warned that the delay could endanger the lives of Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In her message to the Biden team, Murphy defended her position and said she made her decision independently, even as Trump took to Twitter to thank her for her stance and take credit for her decision to move the process forward.

"I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official -- including those who work at the White House or GSA -- with regard to the substance or timing of my decision," she said in the letter to Biden.

Murphy was under pressure from Democrats on Capitol Hill, business associations and state and local government leaders to recognize the results of the election and allow Biden's team to begin meeting with counterparts inside the federal government and access additional resources to facilitate the transfer of power.

Several House committees demanded a briefing from Murphy to explain her refusal to acknowledge Biden's victory and threatened to hold a hearing with her when the agency declined to make her available by Monday -- the deadline imposed by lawmakers.

With the GSA's official signoff, Biden and his team can begin accessing classified information, including the Presidential Daily Brief, said Denis McDonough, President Barack Obama's last chief of staff who participated in the Obama-Trump transition.

"It's surely consistent with the spirit and the tradition and the practice of transitions, to make sure that the incoming team is fully briefed on a range of things they're going to confront," he told ABC News ahead of the GSA's announcement Monday afternoon.

While Biden's transition team has been in contact with congressional committees and Democratic leaders about government funding negotiations, and key governors, mayors and vaccine producers on the coronavirus response, there's no substitute for insight into the government from agency officials, he added.

"Best available is the way this has been done in transitions over many decades," said McDonough, who is leading a study of the transition at the University of Notre Dame.

Biden transition official Yohannes Abraham also reacted to the news, calling the decision "a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track."

"In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration's efforts to hollow out government agencies," he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- As states begin to certify election results that seal a victory for President-elect Joe Biden, even though Donald Trump hasn't conceded, there is one clear sign his post-presidency life is taking shape: Secret Service agents in the president's detail are being asked whether they're interested in transferring to Palm Beach, Florida, sources have told ABC News.

The Secret Service's Miami field office also has begun looking at physical reinforcements to Mar-a-Largo, the president's club to which he refers as "the winter White House," the sources added. These moves are considered unofficial as Trump has yet to concede to Biden.

Trump, a longtime New Yorker born in the borough of Queens, changed his residency to Florida last year and voted there in late October.

When reached by ABC News, a secret service spokesperson said: "For operational security reasons, the Secret Service does not discuss specifically or in general terms the means, methods or resources we utilize to carry out our protective mission."

A Trump Organization spokesperson declined to comment.

Renovations to living quarters expected to be occupied by Trump and first lady Melania Trump are underway, ahead of when they'll be living there full time after the Jan. 20 inauguration, sources familiar with the planning told ABC News.

Sources have described the renovations as "updates" to living quarters, in part because the residence has been used only on a temporary basis. The Mar-a-Lago club also had been opened only seasonally, and it remains unclear how a permanent residency by Donald and Melania Trump could change that.

While Trump will be required to spend at least six months per calendar year in Florida to maintain his residence status, the 74-year-old is expected to spend time at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and in New York, according to the sources, who added that all post-presidency plans remain fluid.

A police source told ABC News that, come Jan. 21, the New York Police Department is planning to work with the Secret Service to reduce the law enforcement footprint around Trump Tower in Manhattan since it will no longer be Trump’s primary residence.

The result, the source said, will be a freer flow of traffic along Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

The NYPD is also expecting 56th Street adjacent to Trump Tower to reopen to traffic, easing Midtown congestion, according to the source.

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Monday issued opinions rejecting five lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign aimed at invalidating 8,329 ballots cast in the 2020 presidential contest over technical concerns.

Three justices wrote in the majority that, "no allegations of fraud or illegality" came up in examination of the ballots.

"Failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters," Justice Christine L. Donohue wrote for the majority.

Two other justices joined Donohue, while other members of the court issued separate opinions. In one separate opinion, Justice David N. Wecht wrote that while he agrees technically deficient ballots should be counted this year, he does not believe the absence of a date on the declaration "should be overlooked as a 'minor irregularity.'"

Wecht wrote, "in future elections, I would treat the date and sign requirement as mandatory ... with the omission of either item sufficient without more to invalidate the ballot in question."

Wecht concluded his concurring and dissenting opinion with the "hope that the General Assembly sees fit to refine and clarify the Election Code" in the future.

In a second concurring, dissenting opinion, Justice Kevin M. Dougherty, joined by Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor and Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy, wrote that the justices agreed the deficient ballots should be counted this year and that ballots missing "fill out" information, such as printed name or address, should not be voided due to technical faults. However, Justice Dougherty noted that "the terms "date" and "sign" -- which were included by the legislature -- are self-evident," and that they "do not view the absence of a date as a mere technical insufficiency we may overlook."

The court also ruled on a similar, separate challenge by a Republican candidate for state senate in Allegheny County contesting 2,349 ballots. The court denied that request as well.

All 10,678 ballots will count towards the 2020 election.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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