Presidential Transition Live Updates: Biden Plans to Announce Members of His Cabinet on Tuesday


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Ron Klain, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s incoming White House chief of staff, said on Sunday that the transition team would announce its first cabinet appointments on Tuesday, although he declined to say which ones.

Mr. Klain, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” said that Mr. Biden would be beating the pace of appointments set by both the Obama-Biden transition and the Trump transition.

He also said that inauguration events on Jan. 20 would be downsized because of the coronavirus and that they might include virtual aspects as the Democratic National Convention had done in August. The inauguration will incorporate “some mix of those techniques, scaled-down versions of the existing traditions,” he said.

“Obviously this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we had in the past,” Mr. Klain added. “We know people want to celebrate. There is something here to celebrate. We just want to find a way to do that as safely as possible.”

Mr. Klain said that President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results were “corrosive,” but that he was not concerned that they would change the outcome of the election.

Jennifer Psaki, a senior adviser to the Biden-Harris transition team, however, conceded that Mr. Trump was slowing down the process of building out a new government. Ms. Psaki said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that F.B.I. background checks, a key part of the confirmation of cabinet secretaries, could not be done without ascertainment.

The General Services Administration has yet to ascertain Mr. Biden’s victory, which would give him and his staff access to federal resources, data and personnel. Symone D. Sanders, a senior adviser and spokeswoman for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that, among key matters, conversations with government officials about a vaccine distribution plan were not happening because of the lack of ascertainment.

“With every single moment that there is a delay of ascertainment, every single moment that our folks are not able to get into and work with current government officials, puts the effective distribution of that vaccine in danger,” she said.

When asked whether Mr. Biden’s cabinet would include more progressive Democrats than President Barack Obama’s first cabinet — which included a record 14 minorities and women — Ms. Psaki said that the Mr. Biden’s cabinet and team “will look like America” in terms of ideology and background.

While most congressional Republicans have also refused to acknowledge that Mr. Biden has won the presidency, despite his standing with the Electoral College and the Trump campaign’s repeated failure to present evidence to support its claims of voter fraud, several lawmakers have begun to push for the transition to begin.

“It’s past time to start a transition, to at least cooperate with a transition,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, even as he insisted Mr. Trump should have additional time to pursue legal challenges to the outcome of the election. “I’d rather have a president who has more than one day to prepare.”

“It’s past time to start the transition,” Mr. Cramer added, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Representative Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat who is set to leave his House seat for a role in the Biden administration, said later on the program that the transition team wanted to “talk to the people doing the job right now so that we can be ready,” particularly for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.

Credit…Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Associated Press

The Trump campaign’s legal efforts to challenge election results in Pennsylvania met with a sharp defeat Saturday night, and some fellow Republicans began to signal their desire to move on, acknowledging that the president had lost both the state and his bid for re-election.

Mr. Trump said in a series of tweets late Saturday that he would continue his effort to overturn the results, including asking state legislatures to intervene on his behalf.

A federal judge’s ruling in Pennsylvania on Saturday night, which dismissed a lawsuit by the Trump campaign that had claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state, ended the last major effort to delay the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote results, which is scheduled to take place on Monday.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican, said in a statement released Saturday night that with the decision, President Trump “has exhausted all plausible legal options” to challenge the results in Pennsylvania. He added that the outcome of the challenge and others “confirm that Joe Biden won the 2020 election.”

Mr. Toomey congratulated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory and urged Mr. Trump to “accept the outcome” for his own legacy and “to help unify our country.”

On Twitter, Mr. Trump hit back at Mr. Toomey, calling him “no friend of mine” and said that he would appeal the decision. And on Sunday, one of Mr. Toomey’s Republican colleagues, Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, said he did not agree with Mr. Toomey’s conclusion, saying, “I don’t know why we are so easily offended by a president who is carrying out all his legal options.”

“Everybody just ought to just relax and let it play out in the legal way — we’ll be just fine,” Mr. Cramer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” But Mr. Cramer noted he had instructed his staff to cooperate with any outreach from the Biden transition team because “I’d like to have a president that has more than one day to prepare, should Joe Biden, you know, end up winning this.”

In the decision handed down on Saturday, Judge Matthew W. Brann wrote that Mr. Trump’s campaign, which had asked him to effectively disenfranchise nearly seven million voters, should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” in its efforts to essentially nullify the results of Pennsylvania’s election.

But instead, Judge Brann complained, the Trump campaign provided only “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence.”

After legal defeats in nearly all of the key swing states — Michigan, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Wisconsin — Mr. Trump’s path to overturning the results of the election through the courts has all but vanished.

With his chances diminishing, Mr. Trump on Saturday night made his most explicit call yet for state legislatures to intervene with the aim of reversing the result, once again relying on false claims of fraud. “Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Pennsylvania lawsuit, filed on Nov. 9, accused its secretary of state, Kathy Boockvar, and several counties with largely Democratic populations of unfairly handling mail-in ballots, which were used in unprecedented numbers during this year’s election.

The suit claimed that under Ms. Boockvar’s guidance, the Democratic counties gave voters who had submitted mail-in ballots with minor flaws an opportunity to “cure” or fix them while counties with mostly Republican populations did not alert voters about faulty ballots.

That, according to the Trump campaign, violated the equal protections clause of the United States Constitution.

Judge Brann, a former Pennsylvania Republican Party official and a member of the conservative Federalist Society, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, rejected this argument, likening it to Frankenstein’s monster, which, he noted, had been “haphazardly stitched together.” He ruled that the Trump campaign, lacking standing to make the claim, could not prove that it had suffered any harm if some counties, anticipating a deluge of mail-in ballots, helped their voters to file proper ballots while others did not.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

President Trump is escalating his attacks on the democratic process after weeks of assailing the results of the presidential election, calling on state legislatures to have “the courage” to upend the results where Joseph R. Biden Jr. won.

Mr. Trump made the assertions in two tweets on Saturday night as his campaign faced its latest legal loss in its push to delay certification of the election in battleground states.

“Why is Joe Biden so quickly forming a Cabinet when my investigators have found hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes, enough to ‘flip’ at least four States, which in turn is more than enough to win the Election?” Mr. Trump baselessly claimed. “Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself. THE WORLD IS WATCHING!!!”

While Mr. Trump’s court challenges are nothing new, his direct and public appeal to legislatures to appoint electors who will back him instead of the candidate chosen by their states’ voters tests the U.S. system of democracy in a new way.

The tweets came as Republicans continued to question, without providing evidence, the results of the election in states Mr. Trump lost. Ronna McDaniel, a Trump ally who is the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, on Saturday co-signed a letter asking Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers to delay certifying the election for two weeks. The result is scheduled to be certified on Monday.

The president and his campaign lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, are hoping to delay certifications in various states. But so far those efforts have been rebuffed by lawmakers and by judges.

On Saturday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign, which asserted that there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots. The decision ended the last major effort to delay certification of Pennsylvania’s results, which is also scheduled for Monday.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican, said in a statement that the president had “exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race” in the state. He congratulated President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory.

Credit…Tami Chappell/EPA, via Shutterstock

Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, a Republican who is campaigning in a high-stakes runoff election that could determine control of the Senate, is isolating after receiving both a negative and positive test for the coronavirus on Friday and then receiving an inconclusive result on Saturday, a campaign spokesman said.

Ms. Loeffler has worn masks while interacting with people, but was indoors and unmasked among unmasked crowds at an event on Thursday. She wore a mask while greeting voters who lined up to meet her.

On Friday morning, she took two coronavirus tests, according to her campaign spokesman, Stephen Lawson.

One of those was a rapid test, which came back negative, and Ms. Loeffler “was cleared to attend” events on Friday, including a rally with Vice President Mike Pence and Senator David Perdue of Georgia, Mr. Lawson said. But the second test, a polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., test — which is considered more accurate — came back with a positive result after her events on Friday evening, he said.

Ms. Loeffler, 49, was tested once again on Saturday morning and received an “inconclusive” result on Saturday evening, Mr. Lawson said.

The senator followed C.D.C. guidelines by notifying those with whom she had had sustained contact while she awaits further test results, he said.

“She has no symptoms and she will continue to follow C.D.C. guidelines by quarantining until retesting is conclusive and an update will be provided at that time,” Mr. Lawson said in a statement.

Ms. Loeffler has held recent events with prominent Republicans, including Mr. Pence, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mr. Perdue, who is also engaged in a runoff election that could determine control of the Senate. Mr. Perdue is remaining at home until more details are known about the health status of Ms. Loeffler.

“Senator Perdue will remain at home until Senator Loeffler receives confirmation of her test results,” wrote John Burke, a Perdue campaign spokesman, in a text message Sunday.

The Loeffler campaign did not provide an update on her status Sunday morning. Mr. Perdue, 70, has encouraged people to wear masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. But he has also appeared at rallies where people did not wear masks. A Friday tweet from Ms. Loeffler includes a picture that shows the two senators in an indoor setting without masks.

A spokesman for Mr. Pence, Devin O’Malley, said that “as he awaits a confirmatory test from Senator Loeffler, Vice President Pence is in regular consultation with the White House Medical Unit and will be following C.D.C. guidelines as he has in other circumstances when he has been a close contact.”

The last time Mr. Pence was deemed a close contact was last month, when his chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive.

Mr. Pence continued to campaign then, with the White House saying that he was performing “essential” duties that exempted him from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines calling for people to quarantine for 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Ms. Loeffler, a businesswoman who is the Senate’s richest member, was temporarily appointed to her Senate seat late last year. She faces the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, a Democrat, in an election on Jan. 5, when Georgia voters will also decide between Mr. Perdue and his opponent, Jon Ossoff, a Democrat.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

With both President Trump and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. keeping low profiles over the weekend, the goals of the departing and incoming administrations came into stark contrast as advisers and subordinates of both men raced to shape the country’s future.

As lawsuits challenging the election results brought by the Trump campaign have fallen apart in multiple states, strategists close to Mr. Biden trained their sights on Georgia, where he was certified as the winner on Friday and two key Senate races loom. Republicans have moved swiftly to bolster their candidates in the Jan. 5 runoff elections, releasing a wave of attack ads against Democratic challengers and opening a determined campaign to encourage Republican voters to turn out.

For both parties, the stakes of the twin runoffs are monumental, determining in one unusual election whether Mr. Biden will begin his term with a unified Congress or a divided one.

But while campaign staff members fretted over Georgia, the Trump administration continued to seek out last-minute policy moves that could both notch quick wins for the president and handicap the incoming Biden administration.

Chief among them is a drawdown of American forces in the Middle East.

With Mr. Trump poised to decisively withdraw troops from Afghanistan, two of the president’s former national security advisers — John R. Bolton and the retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster — appeared on the Sunday talk shows. But both have been critical of the president’s foreign policy and have written books critiquing the Trump administration’s approach to national security.

Credit…Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Trump administration has scheduled the executions of three more federal inmates on death row for the final weeks and days of President Trump’s term.

The executions are scheduled to occur shortly before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has signaled his opposition to the death penalty, enters the White House in January.

With the announcement on Friday, the Justice Department plans to execute a total of six inmates during the presidential transition. The first, Orlando Cordia Hall, was put to death on Thursday night.

Press officers at the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Trump administration revived the federal death penalty last summer after a nearly two-decade hiatus. Since July, the federal government has executed eight prisoners.

Those scheduled to die find themselves just weeks away from the start of an administration that has signaled it would not seek to carry out their death sentences. Mr. Biden has promised to work to pass legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level and incentivize states to follow suit.

In its announcement, the Justice Department said that the three men scheduled to die — Alfred Bourgeois, Corey Johnson and Dustin John Higgs — were convicted of brutal murders. Mr. Bourgeois’s execution is scheduled for Dec. 11. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Higgs are scheduled to die less than a week before Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

In three separate statements, lawyers for the men objected to the move to execute their clients. Lawyers for Mr. Johnson said his intellectual disability should prohibit his execution from being constitutionally carried out. A lawyer for Mr. Bourgeois similarly argued that his client had an intellectual disability, and that the Constitution and the Federal Death Penalty Act barred his execution.

A lawyer for Mr. Higgs claimed that his client “did not kill anyone.” Rather, he asserted, the sole gunman in Mr. Higgs’s case was his co-defendant, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.

Additionally, two other federal inmates are scheduled to die before the end of Mr. Trump’s term. Lisa M. Montgomery’s execution is scheduled for Dec. 8, although a federal judge enjoined the government from doing so before Dec. 31. The execution of Brandon Bernard is scheduled for Dec. 10.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

While President Trump is still contesting the election results, corporate America — along with much of the rest of the world — is moving on. In recent days, companies including Boeing, CVS Health and McDonald’s have said they recognize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and believe the election was free and fair.

On Friday and Saturday, the chorus of chief executives calling for an orderly transition continued to grow.

“The election is over and we expect a smooth transition,” said Ajay Banga, the chief executive of Mastercard. “That’s the hallmark of American democracy.”

Many companies were already offering to work with the Biden administration on efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and kick-start the economy.

“The country needs political stability,” said Michael Dell, the chief executive of Dell Technologies. “We are eager to progress forward and work with the new administration and Congress on pandemic response and recovery and other critical priorities including education, infrastructure and the environment.”

Julie Sweet, the chief executive of Accenture, congratulated Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Nov. 8, the day after most major news media organizations called the election. On Friday, Ms. Sweet called for the Trump administration to cooperate with the transition.

“We have work to do as a country — defeating the pandemic, ending the digital divide, rebuilding the economy and so much more,” she said. “A peaceful, lawful transition must be permitted to move forward.”

Among the companies effectively calling on the Trump administration to concede defeat were many major government contractors, including Cisco.

“We had a free and fair election, and it was encouraging to see the record number of Americans who exercised their right to vote,” said Chuck Robbins, the chief executive of Cisco. “Now we must move forward with the transition process so we can take the steps needed to recover from the pandemic.”

Carlos Gutierrez, the former Commerce secretary, who is now the chairman of EmPath, a private company, and was previously the chief executive of Kellogg, said that beyond disrupting the handoff to the Biden administration, Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede was eroding America’s standing in the world.

“The absence of a normal transition, and a president determined to make some kind of a mark in his last 60 days, has created uncertainty and a worldwide sense of confusion,” Mr. Gutierrez said.





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