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Biden Transition News: Live Updates

Election officials counting votes during a recount in Milwaukee this month.Credit…Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock

The chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner in Wisconsin, formalizing his narrow victory in a state President Trump narrowly carried four years ago and undermining the quixotic efforts of Mr. Trump and his supporters to portray his decisive national loss as a matter still under dispute.

During a three-minute teleconference Monday afternoon, Ann Jacobs, the elections commission chairwoman, signed a document that declared Mr. Biden to be the winner.

“I am now signing it as the official state determination of the results of the Nov. 3, 2020, election and the canvass,” Ms. Jacobs said, before holding the document up to the camera broadcasting her online.

The Wisconsin certification came a few hours after Arizona officials formalized Mr. Biden’s even narrower victory there.

Monday’s certifications would be an afterthought in any other year. But in an environment where Mr. Trump’s false claims of massive fraud have created an alternate reality among his die-hard backers — in the West Wing and beyond — the results foreclosed his fanciful final path to victory.

Mr. Trump, buoyed by his legal team and supporters in the conservative media, has held out hope that he could somehow prevail in Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, where Republican officials on Monday firmly refused to challenge Mr. Biden’s win there.

In Arizona, Mr. Biden prevailed by over 10,000 votes, mainly because of his strength in the state’s largest county, Maricopa, which has been trending Democratic in recent elections.

The state will deliver its 11 electoral votes to Mr. Biden when the Electoral College meets next month, a ceremonial conclave that Mr. Trump hopes to flip in his favor despite state laws that forbid electors from defying the will of voters.

The certification in Wisconsin followed the conclusion of recounts, requested and subsidized with $3 million from President Trump’s campaign, in Dane and Milwaukee Counties that resulted in Mr. Biden adding 87 votes to his statewide margin.

Ms. Jacobs, a Milwaukee Democrat, said that certifying the result of the presidential election came at her discretion and that she expected the move to kickstart legal challenges from the Trump campaign.

“The power to do this is vested solely in the chair,” Ms. Jacobs said.

The six-member bipartisan commission is scheduled to meet again Tuesday morning to certify the state’s other election results.

Two weeks ago the Trump campaign requested the recounts in Dane and Milwaukee, the state’s two largest and most Democratic counties, in an effort to build a legal case against Mr. Biden’s statewide victory. Mr. Biden won Wisconsin by 20,565 votes, a margin that was always highly unlikely to be overturned in a recount.

The Trump campaign has argued in its recount petition that all ballots cast at pre-Election Day in-person absentee voting sites should be disqualified because, it claimed incorrectly, those absentee ballots were issued without voters submitting a written application requesting the ballot.

Its argument would have thrown out hundreds of thousands of ballots across Wisconsin, including those cast by prominent Trump supporters, such as several state legislators and one of the president’s lawyers, Jim Troupis, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. received his first full intelligence briefing, though they typically begin for presidents-elect soon after the election.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received on Monday their first full intelligence briefings since the election, transition officials announced.

While typically intelligence briefings for presidents-elect begin soon after the election, presenting the President’s Daily Brief to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris was delayed as the Trump administration put off beginning of the transition.

Mr. Biden received some intelligence briefings during the campaign, but they were mostly focused on foreign threats to the election. The President’s Daily Brief will give Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris a far broader look at national security threats to the United States.

Distribution of the daily brief is at the sole discretion of the president. Shortly after the General Services Administration approved the formal transition process to begin on Nov. 24, the White House approved Mr. Biden receiving the daily brief. The logistics of setting up the classified sessions put off their start until Monday, according to a Trump administration official.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence assigns an individual briefer to every senior official who receives a version of the daily brief. That briefer shapes the presentation to the needs of the senior official, or in this case the incoming president.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris each received in-person briefings from an intelligence official. They will also have access to the briefing itself, a more detailed and extensive classified intelligence document, which is delivered on a secure tablet computer.

Mr. Biden will need to wait until he is in the White House to make big changes to the brief, by setting collection or analytical priorities for the intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, the transition briefings will allow the intelligence agencies to begin to get a sense of the kinds of questions Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris are asking, and what their current foreign policy focus is.

President Trump said on Sunday that he was frustrated that law enforcement agencies had not done more to pursue his false claims of voter fraud.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Two top Georgia Republicans who President Trump has attacked in his postelection campaign to subvert President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state forcefully pushed back against the White House on Monday.

Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, once again rebuffed the president’s demand that he review ballot signatures as part of a second audit that is nevertheless expected to affirm Mr. Biden’s win later this week, and the state’s governor, Brian Kemp, stood by him.

In two tweets early Monday, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Kemp should use emergency powers to overrule Mr. Raffensperger and compare the number of envelopes and ballots. The president claimed that doing so would reveal rampant fraud, an assertion that has been rejected by the state’s Republican elections officials.

Mr. Trump called the governor “hapless.”

Mr. Kemp flatly rejected him.

“Georgia law prohibits the Governor from interfering in elections,” Mr. Kemp’s spokesman, Cody Hall, wrote in a statement early Monday in response to Mr. Trump’s tweet. “The Secretary of State, who is an elected Constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order.”

Mr. Raffensperger, who has faced scathing personal attacks for standing up to Mr. Trump, went even further during a news conference Monday, portraying the president as a credulous, misinformed victim of “dishonest” advisers.

“There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half truths and misinformation, and frankly they are misleading the president as well, apparently,” said Mr. Raffensperger, who is overseeing a second audit of the results that is not expected to change the outcome. (Georgia has already completed a hand recount of over five million ballots that reaffirmed Mr. Biden’s victory.)

Mr. Raffensperger added that “massive amounts of misinformation are being spread by dishonest actors” — similar to language he has used to describe Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican who has led the pressure campaign in the state on behalf of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Kemp does not, in fact, have the legal authority to do what Mr. Trump is suggesting under state laws, and the signature verification review he demands is already part of the vote counting process.

Unlike the federal government, Georgia does not have a unitary executive and its governor and secretary of state have separate duties, according to Anthony Michael Kreis, a constitutional law professor at Georgia State University.

With several important federal deadlines coming up for the election process, including a Dec. 8 deadline for states to resolve all election disputes, Mr. Trump has declined to say when his time fighting the results would be up.

“I’m not going to say a date,” Mr. Trump said during an interview with the Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.

No significant evidence has been found to support the president’s claims, and several judges in multiple states have quickly dismissed lawsuits by his legal team alleging fraud.

Election workers counting ballots in the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia this month.Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

President Trump’s window to use the courts to overturn the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is closing quickly as the so-called safe harbor deadline — the date before which any election controversies must be settled — approaches on Dec. 8. Then the voting results are considered final.

Still, in the past week, Republicans have launched last-ditch efforts to halt or reverse the certification process in three key swing states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Each of these suits make extraordinary demands on the judges hearing them and would require unprecedented decisions to succeed.

There are also two federal lawsuits moving through the courts seeking to reverse the certification process in Michigan and Georgia. Both of them were filed by Sidney Powell, a former member of Mr. Trump’s legal team who was disavowed by the president last week after she made wild accusations that foreign leaders and some Republican officials were involved in a scheme to manipulate voting machines.

Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, Mr. Trump referred to the numerous — and almost completely unsuccessful — election-related lawsuits that he and his supporters have filed in recent weeks saying, “It’s hard to get to the Supreme Court.”

But he has at least one current path to the nation’s highest court in his continued effort to undermine the election — though it is not a guaranteed one — and even if the justices accept his case and rule in his favor, there isn’t all that much he stands to gain.

Mr. Trump’s road there was paved on Friday when he and his legal team were handed a defeat in a unanimous ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which soundly rejected their attempts to stop or reverse the certification of election results in Pennsylvania. (Pennsylvania certified its election results last week.)

The blistering appellate decision upheld an equally searing ruling from earlier in the month by Matthew W. Brann, a district judge in Pennsylvania, who wrote that Mr. Trump’s attempts to derail the commonwealth’s election were based on “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”

Shortly after the Third Circuit’s ruling came down, Mr. Trump’s lawyers vowed to ask the high court to reconsider the case, but by Monday morning they had not done so yet. And even if the Supreme Court granted the request to reverse the campaign’s appellate loss, it might not get much, given the narrow way in which Mr. Trump’s lawyers structured the original appeal.

Instead of contesting the substance of Judge Brann’s ruling, Mr. Trump’s lawyers asked the Third Circuit only for permission to file a revised version of its initial complaint. Assuming the Supreme Court takes the case and abides by the strict terms of the president’s appeal, it would be able to do no more than return the matter to Judge Brann’s court for further action.

Mr. Trump’s defeat in the Third Circuit left him relying on an ever-dwindling number of suits across the country geared toward overturning the results of the election. On Saturday, he suffered another legal loss when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out a suit by some Republican supporters that had also sought to stop certification of the commonwealth’s vote count.

That suit, led by Representative Mike Kelly, Republican of Pennsylvania, claimed that a state law authorizing mail-in ballots was unconstitutional and sought retroactively to nullify their use in the election — a move that, if successful, would have tipped the state to Mr. Trump. But the mail-in ballot law was passed last year with bipartisan support and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed Mr. Kelly’s attempts to overturn it, saying he had filed his claims too late.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. officially named top members of his economic team on Monday, showcasing his commitment to diversity and placing several women in top economic roles.

With the picks, which require Senate confirmation, Mr. Biden is sending a clear message that economic policymaking in his administration will be shaped by liberal thinkers with a strong focus on worker empowerment as a tool for economic growth. They include:

  • Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton labor economist, to run the three-member Council of Economic Advisers. She would be the first Black woman to lead the council. A labor economist, she worked on Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers for two years and at the White House’s National Economic Council during the Clinton administration.

  • Neera Tanden, the chief executive of the Center for American Progress, to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Tanden, who would be the first Indian-American to lead the Office of Management and Budget, has advocated aggressive spending to alleviate economic harm from the pandemic and has dismissed concerns about adding to the deficit at the current moment.

  • Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, as Treasury secretary. Ms. Yellen, who is also a labor economist, was one of the first officials to suggest allowing the labor market to run “hot” — meaning leaving interest rates lower for longer — in order to help lift wages and get more people into jobs.

  • Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey were named to join Ms. Rouse on the Council of Economic Advisers, which is a three-member team that advises the president on economic policy. They both come from a liberal, labor-oriented school of economics that views rising inequality as a threat to the economy and emphasizes government efforts to support and empower workers. Mr. Bernstein was Mr. Biden’s first chief economist when he was vice president. Ms. Boushey was a top policy adviser to Mrs. Clinton in 2016. Both have advocated a large stimulus package to help workers and businesses hurt by the pandemic recession.

  • Adewale Adeyemo, known as Wally, a senior international economic adviser in the Obama administration, as deputy Treasury secretary. An immigrant from Nigeria, he has extensive experience working at the Treasury Department during the Obama administration, when he was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff.

  • Brian Deese, a former Obama economic aide who helped lead that administration’s efforts to bail out the American automotive industry, has also been selected to lead the National Economic Council, according to three people with knowledge of the selection. Mr. Deese is a veteran of economic policymaking, having served as the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget and the deputy director of the Economic Council under Mr. Obama, as well as a special adviser on climate change.

The appointments could fall short of hopes within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which has been frustrated that their views are not being sufficiently represented in early personnel decisions. In particular, the decision to select Ms. Tanden, a divisive and partisan figure in the party, could culminate in an intraparty fight, as well as a confirmation battle.

Republicans, who are fighting to retain control of the Senate, are unlikely to easily pass Ms. Tanden, who advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Trump.

Mr. Biden’s other picks are expected to be less contentious.

Workers building a platform for the Presidential inauguration outside the White House on Sunday.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Planning for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration is intensifying, with his team announcing on Monday the formation of a Presidential Inaugural Committee that will be carefully attuned to the challenge of managing inauguration activities amid a pandemic.

The organization rolled out the names of senior leaders of the committee, as well as a website for the team, on Monday morning. The committee is expected to work with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the announcement said.

The committee will be helmed by Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University, an historically Black school in Mr. Biden’s home state.

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

Maju Varghese, the chief operating officer on the Biden campaign, will serve as executive director. State Senator Yvanna Cancela, Democrat of Nevada and an early Biden supporter, and Erin Wilson, who was Mr. Biden’s political director during the campaign, have been named as deputy executive directors, according to a release from the organization.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, left, celebrating on Election Day in Riverside, Iowa.Credit…Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, via Associated Press

There are close elections and then there are incredibly close elections. A state canvassing board in Iowa on Monday certified that Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, won an open congressional seat by a mere six votes.

After a recount that gave Ms. Miller-Meeks a lead of 196,964 to 196,958, the Democratic candidate, Rita Hart, signaled that she would challenge the outcome before a judicial panel, though her campaign did not immediately announce a challenge.

“Over the next few days, we will outline our next steps in this process to ensure that all Iowans’ voices are heard,’’ Ms. Hart’s campaign manager, Zach Meunier, said in a statement.

Ms. Hart has two days to challenge the certification under Iowa law, according to The Associated Press. A challenge would be heard before a tribunal consisting of Iowa’s chief justice and four state district judges. If the panel upheld Ms. Miller-Meeks’s victory, Ms. Hart could appeal to the U.S. House, where Democrats are in the majority. The A.P. said it would not call the race until all legal avenues are exhausted.

Ms. Miller-Meeks, a state senator making her fourth run for Congress, was certified the winner after recounts by the 24 counties of Iowa’s Second District. Her win, if it holds, would further erode Democrats’ House majority; Republicans flipped a net of at least nine seats this year that were held by Democrats.

The Hart campaign said the six-vote margin was the slimmest in any congressional race since 1984, when an Indiana race came down to just four votes.

“This race reinforces that every single vote can make a difference and hopefully sends a message about how important it is to be a voter,” said Paul D. Pate, Iowa’s secretary of state.

Both candidates attended orientation in Washington for new members of Congress while the race — to replace a retiring Democrat, Representative Dave Loebsack — was undecided.

The Hart campaign held out hope that a challenge to the results might uncover valid ballots that were overlooked in the recount, which it requested on Nov. 12, when Ms. Miller-Meeks led by 47 votes.

“Under Iowa law, this recount process was designed to count ballots that had already been tallied, meaning that additional legal ballots may have yet to be counted,’’ the campaign said.

Although many polls of Iowa showed Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats competitive before the election, the party suffered broad losses in the state. President Trump carried it by 8.2 percentage points. And in Iowa’s First District, Representative Abby Finkenauer, a first-term Democrat, was unseated by Ashley Hinson, a Republican.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California faces extraordinary crosscurrents of factional rivalry and identity politics in a state where the Democratic Party is thoroughly defined by both. Credit…Pool photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez

Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. But Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to be in no rush to make his choice.

Though many names have been floated to succeed Ms. Harris, Mr. Padilla has emerged as the front-runner, according to more than a half-dozen advisers, political consultants and fellow lawmakers familiar with the governor’s thinking.

Mr. Newsom faces extraordinary crosscurrents of factional rivalry and identity politics in a state where the Democratic Party is thoroughly defined by both. He has spoken about the Senate appointment not as a political bauble that he is eager to dispense, but as a burdensome task that is likelier to generate grudges than personal gratitude and popular excitement.

Mr. Padilla, 47, has emerged as the favorite of Latino lawmakers, advocacy groups and a number of labor officials. But other Latino candidates also have supporters. Xavier Becerra, 62, California’s attorney general, has run and won statewide and has represented Los Angeles in Congress.

And Mayor Robert Garcia, of Long Beach, 42, the city’s first openly gay mayor, has an enthusiastic base.

Active campaigns are also underway to urge Mr. Newsom to replace Ms. Harris with a woman, particularly a Black woman. Led by longtime state Democrats like Willie Brown and groups of high-dollar female donors, they argue that when Ms. Harris assumes her new office, the Senate will once again have no Black female members.

At least two Black women in California’s House delegation are pursuing the appointment: Representatives Barbara Lee, 74, and Karen Bass, 67.

Some Democrats have also suggested that Mr. Newsom could appoint a distinguished figure in the late stages of their public life, who would serve out the remaining two years of Ms. Harris’s term without seeking re-election — someone like Dolores Huerta, the civil rights leader and labor organizer, who is 90.

Jennifer Psaki, 41, previously served as the White House communications director and as the State Department spokeswoman in the Obama administration.Credit…Drew Angerer/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday announced an all-female White House communications staff, with Jennifer Psaki, a veteran of the Obama administration, in the most visible role as White House press secretary.

“Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a president,” Mr. Biden said in a statement, drawing an implicit contrast with the Trump administration’s use of the White House briefing room to disseminate falsehoods and try to undermine the credibility of the news media.

The transition team also announced that Kate Bedingfield, 39, who served as a deputy campaign manager for Mr. Biden, will serve as the White House communications director. Karine Jean Pierre, who previously served as the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org, will be the principal deputy press secretary. Pili Tobar, a former immigrant advocate with the group America’s Voice, will serve as the deputy White House communications director.

Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden on the campaign, will serve as the senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Ashley Etienne, a former senior adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as the communications director for Ms. Harris.

“President-elect Biden has a history of advocating on behalf of women in the U.S. and around the world, and today’s announcement is a continuation of that work,” Ron Klain, the incoming chief of staff, said in a statement.

Ms. Psaki, 41, previously served as the White House communications director for President Barack Obama and as the State Department spokeswoman under Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Twitter, Ms. Psaki said she saw her job as trying to “rebuild trust of the American people” and she noted that many of the women on the team, including herself, were also mothers of young children. (Two of Mr. Trump’s press secretaries were also mothers of young children.) She said she planned to “think outside of the box” about how to use the podium to make the Biden-Harris agenda more accessible to the public. She did not say whether she planned to reinstate the daily press briefing.

The Supreme Court in Washington on Saturday.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday on President Trump’s efforts to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the calculations used to allocate seats in the House — a decision that could shift political power from Democratic states and districts to areas that are older, whiter and typically more Republican.

But even if the court rules for the administration, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. may try to reverse course once he takes office, prompting further litigation.

A ruling for the Trump administration during its final days in power would upend the agreement that the census must count all residents, whatever their immigration status. And it is not clear that congressional officials would accept what they may view as flawed calculations.

The core question in the case — who counts for purposes of congressional reapportionment — is fundamental and largely untested. The Constitution requires congressional districts to be apportioned “counting the whole number of persons in each state,” using information from the census. The Trump administration’s new approach sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment.

The case before the court, Trump v. New York, No. 20-366, was brought by two sets of plaintiffs, one a group of state and local governments and the United States Conference of Mayors, and the second a coalition of advocacy groups and other nongovernmental organizations.

A three-judge panel of the Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that the new policy violated federal law. Two other courts have issued similar rulings, while one said the dispute was not ripe for consideration.

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