President-elect Joe Biden has announced another round of White House staff that demonstrate he intends to continue acting on his pledge to make his administration reflect the diversity of the country. The staff positions announced today will be filled by longtime aides to the Bidens.
Louisa Terrell, who served as Executive Director for the Biden Foundation, will become Director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. She comes to the position with experience that includes acting as the Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs in the Obama-Biden administration.
As CNN reported Thursday, Carlos Elizondo will be White House Social Secretary.
Elizondo worked in the Obama administration as social secretary for then-vice president Joe Biden and Second Lady Jill Biden. He will be only the second man to serve as White House Social Secretary and will inherit a unique dynamic as the White House adapts its activities to the age of coronavirus. He is the third Latino to be named to the East Wing. Earlier in the week, Anthony Bernal was named as a senior adviser to Jill Biden and Julissa Reynosa Pantaleon was tapped as her chief of staff.
Ambassador Cathy Russell will assume the role of Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Russell served at the White House and the State Department for both of President Barack Obama’s terms, and she currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Biden-Harris Transition Team. Prior to that, se served as Vice Chair of the Biden-Harris Campaign.
Future First Lady Jill Biden’s Policy Director will be Mala Adiga, who served as her senior advisor and a senior policy advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign. Adiga — who will work for a First Lady who has said she intends to prioritize education and military families in her portfoli — previously worked at the Biden Foundation as Director for Higher Education and Military Families.
Two sources tell CNN there are discussions currently underway with the President about inviting Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to the White House.
It’s not clear if those invitations have been extended yet, but President Trump has expressed interest in doing so as he tries to insert himself into the vote certification process.
This would be another brazen step on the heels of Trump meeting with lawmakers from Michigan this afternoon. The deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their totals is Monday.
Biden’s senior advisor on Trump legal effort: “There is harm being done to the Democratic process”
Biden for President Senior Advisor Bob Bauer warned in a 30-minute Zoom call with reporters that “there is harm being done to the democratic process” and he slammed the Trump legal effort.
“The harm is real,” Bauer said. “There is no chance Donald Trump can be successful in what he is trying to do.”
In particular, Bauer blasted Rudy Giuliani’s takeover of the Trump legal effort ridiculing Giuliani’s performance in federal court in Pennsylvania this week, calling it a “spectacle” where Giuliani showed up completely unprepared for the case.
Bauer said that all of the Trump campaign’s efforts to stop the certification process in battleground states will fail, as well as any efforts to convince state legislators to elect a slate of pro-Trump electors.
“The election is over,” Bauer stated. “Everyone knows the election is over.”
There will be a press briefing with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later today, an official confirms to CNN. The briefing is scheduled for noon ET.
The last time McEnany briefed reporters from the White House briefing room podium was Oct. 1, the Thursday before President Trump — and then, McEnany herself — tested positive for Covid-19.
Questions about the election and the coronavirus pandemic will likely come up.
President-elect Joe Biden has expedited the selection of his Cabinet and is planning to make the first of several key announcements next week, an official said, as part of a concerted effort to show that he is moving forward despite President Trump’s increasingly brazen attempts to sabotage the election.
On Thursday, Biden said he has settled on his choice for Treasury secretary, but officials said he’s also reached a decision — or is on the cusp of doing so — on other critical Cabinet posts, a few of which are expected to be announced before Thanksgiving.
Monday and Tuesday are being eyed as tentative days for the first introductions of members of Biden’s Cabinet, an official said, with others coming later.
Lael Brainard, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, is seen as the top contender to lead the Treasury Department. If selected, she would become the first woman to serve in that position, a move that would help Biden to start to deliver on his pledge to name a diverse Cabinet.
But three officials close to the Biden transition declined to say whether Brainard was the final choice, saying it is a closely held decision that the President-elect would likely reveal right after Thanksgiving.
But Biden could announce his choice for secretary of State as soon as next week, officials said, along with another Cabinet post.
While Biden is well-known for his deliberate and often slow decision-making, particularly on personnel matters, the timeline of some Cabinet decisions is being accelerated because of a desire to move quickly to form a new government in the wake of Trump’s intransigence about the election.
Read more here.
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield is going to the White House today, a source familiar with the plans told CNN.
The news comes after President Trump invited Republican state lawmakers from Michigan to the White House on Friday, a person familiar with the matter told CNN on Thursday, as the President and his legal team continue to mount efforts to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump extended the invitation on Thursday morning to the Michigan lawmakers by calling the state senate’s Republican majority leader Mike Shirkey, the person familiar previously told CNN.
Shirkey has not responded to emails from CNN either, and his phone mailbox was also full.
Trump also called two Republican canvass board members from Wayne County to offer his support, the person said Thursday, after they went back and forth on voting to certify the election results from the state’s largest county, which includes Detroit. The board members filed affidavits Wednesday seeking to “rescind” their votes to certify the election result.
It’s not clear what Trump’s message to the Michigan GOP lawmakers will be. Both Shirkey and Chatfield have said that they will honor their state’s popular vote and not stray from the process of how electors in Michigan are selected.
Biden currently has an approximate 154,187-vote lead over Trump in the Great Lakes State.
On Sept. 24, Shirkey led the Senate to pass a resolution assuring that electors will vote for the candidate with the most votes as certified by election officials.
President Trump will publicly appear on camera for an official event today — his first on-camera event in front of reporters in a week.
At 2:30 p.m. ET, Trump will deliver remarks on prescription drug prices. It’s not clear if the President will take questions.
Trump also participated in the virtual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this morning, but the event was closed to the press.
The President has invited Republican state lawmakers from Michigan to the White House today, according to a person familiar with the matter, as Trump and his legal team are mounting an effort to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden. This event is not currently on his schedule.
Trump’s previous on-camera event was last Friday, Nov. 13 when he delivered a speech in the White House Rose Garden and touted his administration’s efforts to help produce a coronavirus vaccine.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Friday that he’ll certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory later in the day, and will formalize the razor-thin presidential results after a statewide audit.
Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said certification will occur around 10 a.m. ET Friday.
Raffensperger, a Republican, told reporters that the audit confirmed that Georgia’s voters picked Biden.
“Numbers don’t lie,” he said. “As Secretary of State, I believe that the numbers that we are presented today are correct.”
Perhaps in a move to pacify Trump supporters, Raffensperger said, “Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes.”
When the results are certified, it will be a major blow to Trump’s longshot efforts to overturn the election results. Certifying election results is typically a formality, but the arcane process has become the latest battleground in Trump’s attempt to cling onto power.
His campaign is trying to block or delay certification in key states in hopes of overturning Biden’s victory through the Electoral College.
The scheme essentially becomes impossible if key states certify their presidential results before Dec. 8, which is known as a “safe harbor” deadline under federal law. Georgia has now certified its results, which means it met the deadline and that Congress is required to respect these results.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has until 5 p.m. ET Saturday to sign the paperwork that officially grants Georgia’s 16 electors to Biden, according to state law. Kemp has been relatively quiet during the post-election audit, and CNN has asked his office if he plans to sign the paperwork without incident.
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit to delay Georgia’s certification. The case was brought by one of the potential Republican electors, and the Trump campaign was not officially involved. Lin Wood, who brought the lawsuit, would have served as a pro-Trump elector if Trump won Georgia.
President-elect Joe Biden turns 78 today, and when he is sworn in as president in January, he will be the oldest person in US history to have the job.
He will beat, by eight years, the record set by President Trump when he was elected in 2016 at age 70.
Biden was among the youngest men ever elected to the Senate in 1972, and in his third bid for the presidency, his life story of overcoming personal tragedy met the moment of a nation in the grips of health and economic crises.
Vice-president elect Kamala Harris will also be making history when she takes office. She will become America’s first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president.
President-elect Joe Biden will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington, Delaware, today, according to a transition official.
This will be the first in-person meeting for the trio since Biden won the election.
The meeting comes as Covid-19 cases continue to surge in the country and another stimulus deal is yet to be reached in Congress. More than 2,000 American deaths were recorded by Johns Hopkins University on Thursday — the highest number since early May.
Some of the last remaining stimulus programs for the unemployed, renters and student loan borrowers are set to expire by the end of December unless Congress or President Trump takes action.
While Congress moved swiftly to deliver trillions of dollars in pandemic relief programs when the country first shut down in March, a lot of those benefits have already lapsed.
Despite bipartisan support for another stimulus package, lawmakers have failed to come to any agreement for months, and there is little confidence that a deal could be reached in the lame-duck session.
The former head of the General Services Administration during the 2000 election said Thursday that he would ascertain the 2020 results and begin the formal transition to a Joe Biden presidency, which the current administrator has yet to do.
“To me, it’s clear that we should be recognizing Joe Biden as the President-elect,” David Barram, the former GSA administrator appointed by Bill Clinton, told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
The current GSA administrator, Emily Murphy, still has yet to acknowledge Biden’s victory — as President Trump refuses to concede — and sign a letter to release funds to the Biden transition team through a process called ascertainment. Without the GSA’s signoff, Biden and his team are stuck in limbo, barred from access to federal agencies during the Covid-19 pandemic and classified intelligence briefings.
Barram confirmed to CNN that he and Murphy spoke over the phone before the Nov. 3 election, saying it was a “very cordial conversation” and that Murphy had asked him about his experiences in the GSA.
“I’m very sympathetic to her. It’s a tough spot to be in. I just think she has to finally come to a decision and like I say, I’m sympathetic for her. I think it will make everything work when she finally does,” Barram said.
Barram said that the current situation is “dramatically different” than the GSA’s delay in ascertainment during the 2000 standoff between George W. Bush and Al Gore, which came down to Florida and 537 votes that separated the two candidates.
“Both George Bush and Al Gore, and all of their team, they knew exactly what the deal was. It was whoever would win Florida would win the election. And that’s all we were dealing with. And so it was not settled in Florida. And it was clearly not settled in Florida until the Supreme Court ruled. And then when the Supreme Court ruled, Al Gore immediately conceded,” Barram said.
Barram had eventually ascertained Bush as the 2000 election winner after the Supreme Court ended the Florida recount.
Biden leads Trump by thousands of votes in several states in which the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits and is attempting to delay states’ certifications of the results. Biden is also on track to net 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
Read more here.
Though states finalize and certify their results after every election, the process of confirming the winner of the general election has taken on new significance this year, as President Trump continues to contest his loss.
Here are key things to know about the process:
- Starting a week after Election Day, states began to certify their results after reviewing disputed ballots, conducting post-election audits, and double-checking numbers for accuracy. Federal, state and local election officials from both political parties have said there was no widespread fraud or irregularities in the 2020 election.
- Certifying election results is typically a formality, but the process has become the latest battleground in Trump’s longshot attempt to cling onto power. His campaign is trying to block or delay certification in key states in hopes of overturning Biden’s victory through the Electoral College.
- The idea is that if there’s no certification, then Republican-run state legislatures in a few key states could appoint pro-Trump slates of presidential electors, even though Biden won the popular vote in their state. Senior GOP lawmakers in key states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have already rejected this idea, and some states have laws explicitly ruling out this option.
- Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Republican, told reporters earlier this month that lawmakers don’t have the legal grounds to appoint their own electors. While a spokesperson for Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, another Republican, also poured cold water on the idea of appointing electors that didn’t support the winner of the statewide vote.
- The scheme essentially becomes impossible if key states certify their presidential results before Dec. 8, which is known as a “safe harbor” deadline under federal law.
- When Congress tallies the electoral votes in January, it must accept electors that were certified before the deadline. If a state missed the deadline, then Congress can consider disputed slates of electors.