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President-Elect Joe Biden: Live News Updates


Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

In the week since Election Day, any hope that the results would end the tumult that has characterized President Trump’s almost four years in office is long gone. And on Tuesday, Republicans clung tighter to Mr. Trump’s false claim that he won the election as the extent of the harm done by the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with transition efforts came into clearer focus.

The White House Office of Management and Budget was planning budget proposals for next year as if Mr. Trump would still be president. The head of the General Services Administration, a Trump appointee, still refused to formally recognize Mr. Biden’s victory, which she must do before he can begin important steps of the transition. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo predicted “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

At the same time, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., the winner of the election, continued to push forward with transition efforts despite the impediments created by the president he will succeed.

Mr. Biden’s transition team on Tuesday named the people who will lead the selection processes for top officials in his administration. Mr. Biden is expected to meet with transition advisers on Wednesday.

He spoke on Tuesday with four European leaders — Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Taoiseach Micheál Martin of Ireland — all of whom acknowledged his victory and discussed what cooperation between the United States and those countries might look like under the Biden administration.

As all this continued to play out, the composition of the new Congress came into clearer view, with Democrats clinching a narrower House majority and Republicans edging one seat closer to keeping their Senate majority. The stakes were also vividly apparent at the Supreme Court, where the new 6-3 conservative majority heard arguments in a case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act just as Mr. Biden reiterated his pledge to expand that law.

Credit…Ash Adams for The New York Times

Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, won re-election on Wednesday after a tougher-than-expected race against an independent candidate threatened to cost him a second term and imperil his party’s chance of holding its majority.

President Trump on Wednesday also won the state and its three electoral votes, which will have no effect on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

Mr. Sullivan’s victory, which came on the heels of the apparent win of Senator Thom Tillis in North Carolina, put Republicans a step closer to keeping control of the Senate. The fate of the Senate now hinges entirely on two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5; if Republicans win either one, they keep their majority.

The race in conservative-leaning Alaska was not on the national map of competitive contests at the start of the election cycle. But the Democrat Al Gross — a commercial fisherman, former orthopedic surgeon and political newcomer — mounted an aggressive challenge that, along with President Trump’s sagging approval ratings in the state, helped attract national financial support from Democrats. The contest tightened, placing Mr. Sullivan, like other Senate Republicans elected in 2014 who were regarded as up-and-comers in the party, at unexpected risk as Democrats looked to widen their path to winning back the majority.

Yet Democrats’ hoped-for wave did not materialize. Mr. Tillis was on track to win in North Carolina, according to results tabulated by Edison Research, and his Democratic opponent conceded on Tuesday.

Dr. Gross accused Mr. Sullivan during the campaign of failing to recognize how bad Alaska’s economy had grown amid the coronavirus pandemic and failing to act aggressively enough to turn it around. He pledged to use his medical background to take a leading role on health care in Congress and hammered Mr. Sullivan for voting repeatedly to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Sullivan painted Dr. Gross, whose father was a highly regarded attorney general in Alaska, as too liberal for the state. He warned that if Democrats took control of the White House and Congress, they would pursue an “anti-Alaska” agenda that would further damage the state’s economy and put new restrictions on the energy production that is critical to its financial health.

The Republican also stressed Mr. Sullivan’s efforts on behalf of military installations in the state and his work persuading Mr. Trump to sign off on opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration — a long-sought goal in Alaska. In a last-minute appeal to Alaska voters, Mr. Trump also lifted restrictions that had long prevented logging in the state’s Tongass National Forest.

Credit…Joel Angel Juarez for The New York Times

As the country enters what may be the most intense stage of the pandemic yet, the Trump administration remains largely disengaged.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is trying to assume a leadership mantle, with the appointment of a coronavirus advisory board and a call for all Americans to wear masks. But until his inauguration on Jan. 20, he lacks the authority to mobilize a federal response.

An average of more than 1,000 people per day have died of the virus in the past week, putting the country on track to lose 70,000 more people before the inauguration. The number of Covid-19 hospitalizations hit an all-time high yesterday, and the daily number of new cases — nearly 140,000 — hit a new high for the fourth time in a week.

A White House spokesman, Brian Morgenstern, said that President Trump and his administration “remain focused on saving lives,” citing their efforts to produce a vaccine and therapeutics. He added that the White House virus task force “is in constant contact with state and local officials” to provide help.

But Mr. Trump continues to wage war with his own health officials. He was said to have been furious after the drug maker Pfizer announced Monday that early clinical trial data suggested its coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective. In a conversation with Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, a senior administration official said, the president accused the company and the F.D.A. of conspiring to delay news that could have bolstered his chances of re-election.

Trump aides said the president believed that Pfizer could have announced the success of its clinical trial before Nov. 3 but deliberately chose to hold it up, possibly not to taint the company’s vaccine as a last-minute effort to save Mr. Trump’s re-election bid. White House aides were particularly incensed that Mr. Biden publicly said his health advisers knew of Pfizer’s results on Sunday, before aides said the news had reached the White House.

Beyond Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed, the federal bully pulpit — an essential component of an effective infectious disease response — has largely gone silent. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview on Tuesday that the vaccine would be “a game changer” over time.

Credit…Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Election officials in dozens of states representing both political parties said that there was no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race, amounting to a forceful rebuke of President Trump’s claims of a fraudulent election.

Over the past several days, the president, members of his administration, congressional Republicans and right-wing allies have falsely claimed that the election was stolen from Mr. Trump and refused to accept results that showed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner.

But top election officials across the country said in interviews and statements that the process had been a remarkable success despite record turnout and the complications of a dangerous pandemic.

“There’s a great human capacity for inventing things that aren’t true about elections,” said Frank LaRose, a Republican and Ohio’s secretary of state. “The conspiracy theories and rumors and all those things run rampant. For some reason, elections breed that type of mythology.”

In Georgia, where Mr. Trump trails by less than 15,000 votes and the election has not been called yet, the Trump campaign and the two Republican senators have complained about transparency, a charge that the state’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger called “laughable.”

“We were literally putting releases of results up at a minimum hourly,” he said in a statement. “I and my office have been holding daily or twice-daily briefings for the press to walk them through all the numbers.”

He added that while there were likely small instances of fraud, he did not expect them to be significant enough to affect the outcome.

The Trump campaign has made some of its loudest fraud complaints about Pennsylvania, the state that put Mr. Biden over the 270-electoral-vote threshold, where Mr. Trump trails by more than 45,000 votes as counting continues.

Jacklin Rhoads, a spokeswoman for Josh Shapiro, the state’s Democratic attorney general, said that the election in the state was “fair and secure,” and added, “No active lawsuit even alleges, and no evidence presented so far has shown, widespread problems.”

The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.

Officials in Texas did not respond to repeated inquiries. But a spokeswoman for the top elections official in Harris County, the largest county in Texas, with a population greater than those of many states, said that there were only a few minor issues and that “we had a very seamless election.”

Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times

When President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. thanked Black voters in his victory speech Saturday night for rescuing his campaign at its lowest point and declared, “You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours,” Kourtney Neloms did not cheer like the hundreds of others in attendance.

Instead, as she listened to Mr. Biden speak in Wilmington, Del., from her hometown, Detroit, she felt somewhat skeptical.

“OK, let’s see if he’s really being honest about this,” Ms. Neloms, 42, who is Black, recalled thinking. “My prayer is that it’s not just lip service.”

While Black voters across the country celebrated the election of Mr. Biden and his vice president, Senator Kamala Harris of California, many said in recent days that the administration would have to prove its sincerity when it came to addressing the country’s vast inequalities and systemic barriers.

Mr. Biden attracted about 87 percent of the Black vote in the election this year. At the same time, President Trump, despite being widely viewed as inflaming racial hatred, drew a bigger share of the Black vote than he did in 2016, especially among men, according to exit polls.

In two dozen interviews, some African-American voters echoed a longstanding political concern that they were underappreciated, particularly within the Democratic Party they have staunchly supported for decades.

In his presidential bid, Mr. Biden’s political identity was shaped largely by the fact that he served as the vice president to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president. He leveraged that experience to garner Black support, and it was Black voters in South Carolina who rescued his primary campaign.

He also addressed an issue that might have affected Black support, acknowledging that parts of his signature legislation as a longtime U.S. senator, the 1994 crime bill, were a mistake. Much of his campaign pitch, too, centered on addressing racial disparities: the coronavirus pandemic that is disproportionately harming Black and Latino communities and episodes of police violence leading to one of the largest protest movements in the nation’s history.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris — the first Black woman on a successful presidential ticket — accumulated huge margins over Mr. Trump in Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta, cities with large or majority Black populations that significantly helped the president-elect in tightly contested swing states.

“It does create a situation where there is more pressure to provide for the Black community,” said Isaiah Thomas, a Black city councilman in Philadelphia. “I don’t think that we can recreate this moment right here. So we have to get as much as we can for poor people and people of color.”

Credit…Mark Stehle/Associated Press

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. should, immediately upon being sworn in, implement the Supreme Court’s order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

The demand is part of a 24-page blueprint for administrative action the Human Rights Campaign is releasing today. The centerpiece is a call for applying the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. across the federal government. The Trump administration has not yet implemented workplace protections for L.G.B.T.Q. federal employees that the Bostock decision requires.

The campaign’s document also includes requests that Mr. Biden appoint the nation’s first openly-L.G.B.T. cabinet officials; name the first lesbian, bisexual or transgender ambassador; order the collection of data about L.G.B.T.Q. people in the census; rescind the Trump administration ban on transgender people in the military;end conversion therapy; and terminate the prohibition on gay and bisexual men donating blood.

“Were looking for the administration to make good on their promises,” said Alphonso David, the Human Rights Campaign’s president. “This blueprint is a step forward from where we were before Trump.”

The document asks the Biden administration to establish an executive-branch task force to address anti-transgender violence and to end the Mexico City Policy, which bars U.S. aid to foreign nongovernmental organizations that provide abortion services.

It also includes dozens of requests of federal agencies, including asking the Department of Health and Human Services to create a national bullying standard, asking the Labor Department to ensure that gender transition treatments qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act, and asking the State Department to include a nonbinary gender marker on passport applications.

Mr. David said he did not expect much pushback from the incoming Biden administration.

“I believe that we will work collaboratively to implement these recommendations, and I believe that they will be our partners,” he said. “I don’t believe we will need to strong-arm Joe Biden into believing that L.G.B.T.Q. people need to be treated with dignity.”

Credit…Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

Senior officials for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. raised the possibility this week of legal action that could force a top Trump administration official to allow Mr. Biden’s transition to formally begin.

But legal experts warned on Tuesday that such a move could easily backfire on Mr. Biden if he files a lawsuit in federal court and loses, handing Mr. Trump a ruling that he could use to support his false claim that the election was stolen.

Emily Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, has the authority to declare when Mr. Biden’s transition gets money, office space and permission to interact with agency employees across the government. So far, she has refused to grant those abilities, saying the results of the election are not clear.

On Monday night, transition officials for Mr. Biden said they were considering “legal actions” to force Ms. Murphy’s hand. Cameron French, a spokesman for the Biden transition, declined to elaborate on Tuesday on whether the team might take legal action or what that might look like.

Two lawyers who worked in the White House Counsel’s Office under Democratic presidents said that it would be a mistake for the Biden team to try to get a federal court judge to force an official to act. Such orders, known as writs of mandamus, are extremely rare and the bid would probably fail, the lawyers said.

A judge’s ruling also would likely be subject to appeal, which could take weeks or months, leading to a decision well after the transition period ends on Inauguration Day in January.

The two lawyers declined to be named because they did not want to be seen second-guessing Mr. Biden’s team. But Bruce Green, a law professor and the director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University, expressed similar concerns.

“The likelihood of prevailing is low and the likelihood of taking a political hit is high,” Mr. Green said, adding that federal judges were not inclined to impose judgments on executive-branch officials. “It’s incredibly rare. They don’t tell prosecutors what to do. They are not going to tell the G.S.A. what to do.”

Mr. Green said that if a judge ruled against Mr. Biden, the result would be a misunderstanding among many Americans, who would interpret the judge’s decision as a validation of Mr. Trump’s claims.

“The appearance to the public would be that a court has said he’s not the likely president,” Mr. Green said, “when they are really saying they don’t have the power to make the G.S.A. administrator do her job.”





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