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Joe Biden Transition: Live Updates

Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio at a news conference in 2019. He is the latest Republican official to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.Credit…Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

It’s not exactly a stampede, but the number of Republicans willing to acknowledge President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory is growing, with Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio and the veteran party operative Karl Rove, who served as an adviser to the Trump campaign, urging the president to accept defeat.

While only four sitting senators in the president’s party have publicly congratulated Mr. Biden, other Republicans are creeping gingerly in that direction, and Republican state elections officials are pushing back against the Trump campaign’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

“We need to consider the former vice president as the president-elect. Joe Biden is the president-elect,” Mr. DeWine told CNN on Thursday.

Earlier this week, the governor — who represents a one-time tossup state that has swung decisively for President Trump twice — had signaled that he wanted to wait for Mr. Trump’s legal challenges to be adjudicated before going all the way.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Rove, a ferocious partisan fighter who was a key player in President George W. Bush’s campaigns, wrote an op-ed for The Wall St. Journal, “This Election Result Won’t Be Overturned,” pointing out that recounts often change hundreds but seldom tens of thousands of votes, and never in the multiple states that Mr. Trump would need to overturn to claim victory.

“The president’s efforts are unlikely to move a single state from Mr. Biden’s column, and certainly they’re not enough to change the final outcome,” wrote Mr. Rove, who provided strategic advice to Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale and others close to the president.

Two powerful forces are preventing more Republicans from immediately following suit.

First is fear of Mr. Trump, who refuses to concede and threatens defectors. And second is the more acute factor of the double runoff in January for Georgia’s two Senate seats, which will determine which party controls the upper chamber. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler will require near-maximum turnout from the Republican faithful, and they are very firmly behind Mr. Trump’s post-election resistance movement.

Though most leading Republicans have not repeated Mr. Trump’s fraud claims, they have also declined to acknowledge Mr. Biden’s victory — which could further embolden Mr. Trump, who refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power during the campaign and undermined confidence in any results that did not favor him.

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump by more than 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, more than 50,000 in Pennsylvania and nearly 150,000 in Michigan, all states that have already been called for him, though Mr. Trump is pressing legal challenges. Mr. Biden also leads by more than 10,000 votes in the uncalled states of Georgia and Arizona, though he does not need either one now that he is president-elect.

And there were signs that the president’s Red Wall on Capitol Hill might be more of a temporary barrier than a permanent political bulwark.

Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, told a radio station in his home state on Wednesday that he would intervene as soon as Friday if the Trump administration continued to refuse to grant Mr. Biden access to presidential daily intelligence briefings.

“There is no loss from him getting the briefings and to be able to do that,” Mr. Lankford, who sits on the Senate Oversight Committee, told radio station KRMG.

The first-term senator added that doing so would ensure continuity of governance “if Joe Biden is elected, which it looks like he is.”

On Thursday, Senator Charles E. Grassley, the longest serving Republican in the Senate, told CNN he thought Mr. Biden should be in the loop. “I would think — especially on classified briefings — the answer is yes,” he said.

At least two other Republican senators, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Marco Rubio of Florida, have suggested Mr. Biden should have access to the briefings, although neither went as far as Mr. Lankford.

As of Thursday, the Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska had publicly acknowledged Mr. Biden’s victory. A fifth, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, called Mr. Biden “quite likely” to prevail and urged Mr. Trump to cooperate.

On Wednesday, Arizona’s attorney general, Mark Brnovich, a Republican, told Fox News that state officials had received about 1,000 complaints about the election but found “no evidence” of widespread voter fraud.

“If indeed there was some great conspiracy, it apparently didn’t work,” he said.

Mr. Brnovich stopped short of declaring a winner, and it is not within his official responsibilities to do so anyway.

Still, he added, “It does appear that Joe Biden will win Arizona.”

Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue face runoff elections in January that will determine which party controls the Senate.Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

After more than a week of vote counting and only periodic election calls, the shape and the resulting stakes of the next Senate have finally come into sharp relief: Party control will be determined by a pair of runoff elections in Georgia in January, and who wins those races will have profound implications on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s policy agenda.

Senate race calls made on Wednesday formalized outcomes that were widely expected, with Senators Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, both Republicans, holding onto their seats and giving their party a 50-to-48 advantage.

If Republicans win either Georgia race on Jan. 5, they will maintain control of the chamber. Democrats must win both seats in the traditionally conservative state to leverage Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote and take control.

If Democrats do win both races, close aides to Mr. Biden and economists who helped advise his campaign say the president-elect will try to push through a large stimulus plan for the flagging economic recovery — most likely along the lines of the $2.2 trillion that House Democrats approved this fall.

His stimulus plan under such a scenario would include hundreds of billions of dollars for state and local governments that have lost tax revenue amid the pandemic recession, extended unemployment benefits for people who lost jobs during the crisis and a new round of aid for small businesses.

Mr. Biden’s team is also developing a government employment program — called the Public Health Jobs Corps — that would put 100,000 Americans to work on virus testing and contact tracing.

A narrow majority in the Senate would also give Mr. Biden the chance to push through tax increases on corporations and the rich to fund ambitious plans like rebuilding roads and bridges, speeding the transition to carbon-free energy and helping Americans afford health care.

But if Republicans win at least one Georgia seat, Mr. Biden will most likely need to settle for a wave of executive actions that would bring more incremental progress toward his policy goals while trying to cut compromise deals with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

Tax increases, even for the ultrarich, would almost certainly be off the table, as would expanding the Affordable Care Act to give Americans the ability to buy into a government insurance program like Medicare. Mr. Biden would continue to push for infrastructure and health care bills, economists around him say, but he would be unlikely to win support for his full agenda in those areas.

American troops in Afghanistan in 2019. The president has been frustrated by what he sees as the military moving too slowly to fulfill his promise that all troops will be home by Christmas.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s abrupt installation of a group of hard-line loyalists into senior jobs at the Pentagon has elevated officials who have pushed for more aggressive actions against Iran and for an imminent withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan over the objections of the military.

Mr. Trump made the appointments of four top Pentagon officials, including a new acting defense secretary, this week, leaving civilian and military officials to interpret whether this indicated a change in approach in the final two months of his presidency. Mr. Trump also named Michael Ellis as a general counsel at the National Security Agency over the objections of the director, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone.

There is no evidence so far that these new appointees harbor a secret agenda on Iran or have taken up their posts with an action plan in hand. But their sudden appearance has been a purge of the Pentagon’s top civilian hierarchy without recent precedent.

Most of the officials and former officials interviewed this week agreed that there was a large element of score-settling and attention-grabbing by Mr. Trump and his aides as they have defied calls to concede to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Ron Klain was the White House Ebola response coordinator under President Barack Obama and has deep experience on Capitol Hill.Credit…Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. named Ron Klain, a veteran Democratic operative and a decades-long confidant, to be his White House chief of staff on Wednesday, the first step toward putting in place his administration’s senior leadership.

Mr. Klain, a lawyer with deep experience on Capitol Hill, advising President Barack Obama and in corporate board rooms, served as Mr. Biden’s chief of staff when he was vice president and has been seen for months as the most likely choice to manage his team in the White House. Known for steady nerves, he also has a fierce wit, which he has frequently unleashed on President Trump on Twitter.

He was particularly critical of Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, having served as the “Ebola czar” under Mr. Obama during an outbreak of the deadly disease in 2014. A video of Mr. Klain lecturing Mr. Trump about the pandemic was widely viewed during the campaign.

In a statement, Mr. Biden called Mr. Klain an “invaluable” adviser, noting in particular the work they did together during the economic crisis in 2009 and the Ebola outbreak.

“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Klain has gone in and out of government over the past several decades, at times practicing as a lawyer and later working with Steve Case, the founder of AOL, in a venture capital investment firm called Revolution.

Mr. Klain thanked his well-wishers in a tweet on Wednesday night, saying that he was “honored by the President-elect’s confidence” and that he would “give my all to lead a talented and diverse team in a Biden-Harris” White House.

The choice of Mr. Klain, 59, who first went to work for Mr. Biden in the late 1980s when Mr. Biden was a senator from Delaware and Mr. Klain was a recent graduate of Harvard Law School, signals that the president-elect intends to rely on a tight circle of Washington insiders who have been by his side for years.

Advisers have said that Mr. Biden will announce other top White House staff members in the coming days, even as Mr. Trump refuses to accept the results of the election, tweeting “WE WILL WIN!” on Wednesday evening.

Mr. Biden is not likely to reveal his cabinet picks until around Thanksgiving, several people close to the transition said.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea had a congratulatory phone call with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday and plans to meet with him soon after the inauguration.Credit…Pool photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. spoke with three more foreign leaders on Wednesday, in the latest show of international support for his election victory. He committed to an early meeting with one: President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.

In a statement, the Biden transition team said the president-elect had participated in “congratulatory calls” with Mr. Moon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan. The calls with three of America’s closest allies came the day after four that Mr. Biden held with Western European allies, in a return to traditional diplomatic protocol after years of President Trump’s haphazard foreign interactions.

Mr. Biden spoke with each leader about the coronavirus pandemic, the global economy and “strengthening democracy,” according to descriptions of the calls from the transition office. While the State Department would typically help facilitate such calls for a president-elect and supply him with translators if necessary, a source familiar with Mr. Biden’s calls over the past two days said the Trump administration had refused to provide such assistance.

But even as Mr. Trump continues to make false charges of voter fraud and claims to be the true winner of the election, virtually all of the world’s major leaders have now acknowledged that Mr. Biden will be inaugurated in January. The few holdouts include two autocratic allies of President Trump — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil — as well as President Xi Jinping of China.

In a Twitter post, Mr. Moon said he and Mr. Biden affirmed their countries’ “robust” alliance and desire for a “peaceful and prosperous” Korean Peninsula.

During their 14-minute phone call, Mr. Moon noted Mr. Biden’s “long experience in state affairs, his excellent leadership and clear vision,” said Mr. Moon’s spokesman, Kang Min-seok. Mr. Biden praised South Korea’s largely successful fight against the coronavirus, comparing it with the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic.

The two leaders agreed to meet as soon as possible after Mr. Biden’s inauguration, Mr. Kang said.

Mr. Moon’s government hopes that the Biden administration will restart stalled negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and drop Mr. Trump’s talk of reducing U.S. troop presence in South Korea, which now numbers 28,500.

“As president, I’ll stand with South Korea, strengthening our alliance to safeguard peace in East Asia and beyond, rather than extorting Seoul with reckless threats to remove our troops,” Mr. Biden had written in an opinion column published by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency days before the election.

Vice President Mike Pence accompanied President Trump at a rally in Michigan the night before the election.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — For four years, Vice President Mike Pence has walked the Trump tightrope more successfully than anyone else in the president’s orbit, staying on his good side without having to echo his most incendiary language.

But in the final weeks of Mr. Pence’s term, his relationship with President Trump faces what may be its toughest challenge yet.

Mr. Pence must now balance his loyalty to an enraged president making baseless claims of voter fraud against his own political future and reputation. He also has to deal with how Mr. Trump’s talk of running for president again in 2024 could leave him with no lane to run in. It would be difficult for Mr. Pence to even start raising money if the president is floating his own name.

So far, Mr. Pence appears to be handling the pressure much as he has over the past four years: appearing to be unflinchingly loyal while also steering clear of engaging in Mr. Trump’s pressure campaigns.

In the last few months of Mr. Pence’s vice presidency, his advisers want him focused on leading the coronavirus task force and helping the two Georgia Republicans facing runoffs that will determine whether the party maintains its Senate majority.

Those advisers said they would prefer that the vice president steer clear of the Trump campaign’s legal fights over the election, and so far, Mr. Pence has been careful not to repeat Mr. Trump’s most baseless attacks on the electoral system.

In his brief remarks last week after election night — he kept them to 53 seconds — Mr. Pence tried to make what amounted to a non-endorsement of the president’s claim that the election was a “major fraud on our nation” into something that sounded like unquestioning support.

“As the votes continue to be counted, we’re going to remain vigilant, as the president said,” Mr. Pence said at the White House. “We’re going to protect the integrity of the vote.”

For almost a week afterward, Mr. Pence was not seen or heard in public, though it was reported that he spent time with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office on Friday. The president is scheduled to have lunch with him on Thursday.

Provisional ballots were collected on Election Day in Erie, Pa.Credit…Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News, via Associated Press

The Postal Service’s inspector general has informed Congress that a worker who had made allegations of ballot corruption at a facility in Erie, Pa., had disavowed his claims, which Republicans had called evidence of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania’s voting.

Richard Hopkins, a postal employee in Erie, “completely” recanted allegations that a supervisor was “tampering with mail-in ballots” after investigators questioned him, the inspector general’s office said on Tuesday, according to the Democratic leadership of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Not long after the Democrats’ announcement, Project Veritas — a conservative group that researchers say has run a disinformation campaign to delegitimize the voting process — released a video in which Mr. Hopkins said that he had not actually recanted his statements.

Mr. Hopkins had claimed in a sworn affidavit given to President Trump’s campaign that he overheard what he believed to be a discussion about backdating postmarks on ballots that arrived at the postal facility after Election Day.

Ballots must have been postmarked by Election Day, Nov. 3, to count. The implication of Mr. Hopkins’s claim was that postal workers had backdated ballots that should have been disqualified.

In Pennsylvania, mail-in ballots received after Election Day have been separated from those that arrived by Nov. 3 and have not been counted yet. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has won Pennsylvania without them.

Only about 130 mail-in ballots arrived after Election Day, out of about 135,000 ballots cast in Erie County, the chairman of the county’s board of elections said in a statement.

President Trump has shattered a bedrock democratic tradition by raising even the possibility that he would have to be forced from office.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

MOSCOW — When the strongman ruler of Belarus declared an implausible landslide victory in an election in August and had himself sworn in for a sixth term as president, the United States and other Western nations denounced what they said was brazen defiance of the voters’ will.

President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s victory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month, was “fraud.” Mr. Pompeo added: “We’ve opposed the fact that he’s now inaugurated himself. We know what the people of Belarus want. They want something different.”

Just a month later, Mr. Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, is now borrowing from Mr. Lukashenko’s playbook, joining a club of truculent leaders who, regardless of what voters decide, declare themselves the winners of elections.

That club counts as its members far more dictators, tyrants and potentates than leaders of what used to be known as the “free world” — countries that, led by Washington, have for decades lectured others on the need to hold elections and respect the result.

The parallel is not exact. Mr. Trump participated in a free and fair democratic election. Most autocrats defy voters before they even vote, excluding real rivals from the ballot and swamping the airwaves with one-sided coverage.

But when they do hold genuinely competitive votes and the result goes against them, they often ignore the result, denouncing it as the work of traitors, criminals and foreign saboteurs, and therefore invalid. By refusing to accept the results of last week’s election and working to delegitimize the vote, Mr. Trump is following a similar strategy.

The United States has never before had to force an incumbent to concede a fair defeat at the polls. And merely by raising the possibility that he would have to be forced out of office, Mr. Trump has shattered the bedrock democratic tradition of a seamless transition.

Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited record-breaking infections to justify a pandemic relief package much larger than what Republican lawmakers had been suggesting.Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Top congressional Democrats renewed calls for a sweeping coronavirus relief package on Thursday, insisting that voters had given President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his party a mandate to fight the pandemic aggressively.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader in the Senate, cited record-breaking infections across the country, along with the presidential election results, to justify their position that any package must be much larger than what Republicans had been suggesting.

By holding firm to keeping $2.4 trillion in new spending as their starting point, Democrats appeared to be closing the door on the possibility of a year-end compromise with Republicans, who have proposed spending a fraction of that amount.

“This election was maybe more a referendum on who can handle Covid well than anything else,” Mr. Schumer said. “The Donald Trump approach was repudiated and the Joe Biden approach was embraced. That is why we think there is a better chance of getting a deal in the lame duck.”

Leaders in both parties have acknowledged the need for another round of stimulus, but they have yet to agree on the scope and cost of a second package, with Republicans insisting on a much smaller bill than what Democrats — and even the White House — had been advocating ahead of the election.

The potential for agreement appeared to narrow further on Thursday, with a top Republican indicating that Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, was no longer planning to rely on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cut a deal with Democrats.

“There hasn’t been any discussion yet between McConnell and Pelosi, but McConnell is not going to rely on Mnuchin anymore to do the dealing,” Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters on Thursday morning. “I think he’s intending to take it over and try to get something going.”

Mr. McConnell, for his part, told reporters on Capitol Hill that “my view is, the level at which the economy is improving further underscores that we need to do something at about the amount that we put on the floor in September and October,” referring to the targeted $500 billion packages Senate Republicans tried to pass before the election.

The price tag Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer were discussing, he said, “is not a place I think we’re willing to go, but I do think there needs to another package.”

But Ms. Pelosi portrayed Republicans as “cold-hearted” for insisting on a smaller relief package and tried to upbraid them.

“It’s like the house is burning down and they just refuse to throw water on it,” she said.

Both sides will also have to reach an agreement on critical spending legislation to prevent a lapse in government funding on Dec. 11, with either an agreement on the dozen annual must-pass bills or another stopgap spending bill.

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