By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President-elect Joe Biden is moving forward with transition plans, capping a tumultuous and tension-filled campaign during a historic pandemic against President Donald Trump, who refuses to concede the election, despite a growing list of foreign heads of states moving on and recognizing Biden as the winner.
Trump is back behind closed doors Thursday after a brief outing Wednesday to mark Veterans Day. Since Biden was projected the winner, Trump has largely hunkered down inside the White House — ceding the presidential leadership spotlight to the man he mocked.
Biden, meanwhile, has been meeting with transition advisers in Delaware and has already named his chief of staff. He has called Trump’s refusal to concede “an embarrassment.”
Meanwhile, the Biden transition team and the Trump administration are in a standoff over whether Biden should be granted access to federal resources allocated for the transition of power. The General Services Administration (GSA), headed by a Trump appointee, has yet to officially recognize Biden as the victor in the election, preventing Biden’s team from gaining full access to government funds and security information.
Trump had falsely declared on election night, when he held a lead in several key states, that he won the contest and alleged without evidence after the count started to swing the other way, that the election was being stolen from him and that fraud had been committed.
Now his legal team is waging battles in an effort to reverse the election results, but so far they have been unable to produce evidence of widespread fraud that would change the results.
Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Nov 12, 1:50 pm
Biden speaks with His Holiness Pope Francis
Adding to the list of congratulatory phone calls he’s received from world leaders, Biden also spoke Thursday morning with Pope Francis — the bishop of Rome, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State who grabbed the world’s attention last month when he became the first pope to endorse same-sex civil unions.
On the call, Biden thanked “His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness’ leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world,” according to a statement from the Biden campaign.
Biden, notably, would be only the second Catholic U.S. president, joining John F. Kennedy.
So far, the Biden campaign has also confirmed the president-elect has had congratulatory calls with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle
Nov 12, 1:11 pm
Some GOP senators says Biden should receive classified briefings
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday morning that he believes Biden should get access to classified briefings to prepare for the transition — though he wouldn’t go so far to say the GSA should recognize Biden as the president-elect yet.
“I would think especially on the classified briefings the answer is yes,” Grassley said when asked about whether Biden should be receiving briefings. The “9/11 report raised concerns that a shortened transition period contributed to a lack of national security preparedness.”
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, in an earlier radio interview out of Tulsa, announced he will “step in” if Biden is not receiving security briefings by Friday.
“There is no loss from him getting the briefings,” Lankford said. “If that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in as well to be able to push and to say this needs to occur — so regardless of the outcome and election, no matter which way it goes, people can be ready to do that.”
Both senators, in lockstep with the Republican party, maintain that the president has a right to pursue legal challenges until electors cast their votes in December.
-ABC News’ Allison Pecorin
Nov 12, 12:29 pm
Pelosi, Schumer suggest Trump’s refusal to concede costing lives
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear to reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday they have one message to Republicans in Congress: It is time to move on from the election and accept Biden as the next president.
“The election is over. It wasn’t close,” Schumer said. “Senate Republicans: Stop denying reality.”
He accused Republicans of throwing a “temper tantrum” and expressed confidence that the Biden win is not going to be seriously challenged in court, deeming recent legal maneuvers as “nothing more than a pathetic political performance for an audience of one: President Donald John Trump.”
Pelosi hammered that Republicans’ focus instead should be on passing another coronavirus relief package, which as of right now is stalled in Congress, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise across the country and the U.S. labor market inches toward a recovery.
“Stop the circus,” Pelosi said. “And get to work on what really matters to the American people.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, asked about where he stands on COVID-19 stimulus when leaving the Senate floor Thursday morning, continued to advocate for a “targeted” bill — leaving him at odds with Pelosi and Schumer.
-ABC News’ Mariam Khan and Allison Pecorin
Nov 12, 10:45 am
2020 turnout is now the highest in modern history
Nine days after election day, turnout in the 2020 election has officially broken the modern-history record.
The total votes cast currently stand at 152,764,399, which is 63.9% of the voting-eligible population in 2020, slightly higher than the modern turnout record of 63.8% set in 1960, according to the U.S. Elections Project.
- Biden: 77,635,157 (51%)
- Trump: 72,382,585 (47%)
With 96% of the expected vote in nationwide, Biden’s lead over Trump has increased to more than 5.2 million votes.
Turnout is expected to continue to climb to reach as high as 158 million votes, experts predict. That could surpass records from a century ago — hitting around 65.5% of the voting-eligible population — but those elections excluded significant groups.
-ABC News’ Kendall Karson
Nov 12, 10:27 am
White House press secretary deflects questions on Biden transition to the White House
Kayleigh McEnany, speaking as a “Trump campaign adviser” to Fox News Thursday morning, appeared to slip up with a departure from the president’s public messaging — that he won the election — by saying the Trump administration is following all laws “with regard to an expected transition” before seeming to catch herself.
Asked whether the president has considered giving Biden access to the President’s Daily Briefs even as he continues to contest the election results, McEnany said it’s a question for the White House — although McEnany serves as White House press secretary, the main spokesperson for the president.
“That would be a question more for the White House, but I will say that all laws are being followed with regard to an expected transition though we expect to continue on as the Trump administration, and we will see how our litigation goes,” she said.
Her comments comes as the GSA has yet to officially recognize Biden as the victor in the election, preventing the Biden team from full access to government funds and information to aid in the process.
-ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps
Nov 12, 10:11 am
Overview: Trump behind closed doors as Biden moves forward
The standoff between the Biden transition team and the Trump administration continues as Trump still refuses to concede the loss and recognize Biden as the president-elect — while the Trump campaign continues to issue largely empty legal threats in hopes of overturning the results.
Trump, who largely avoided the public since last week, has another day with no public events. He’s scheduled to have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and meet later in the day with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — but all behind closed doors at the White House.
Multiple sources told ABC News Trump met with senior advisers, including Jared Kushner, Jason Miller and campaign manager Bill Stepien, on Wednesday to discuss a post-election path forward.
Though he had golf outings over the weekend and on Wednesday participated in a Veterans Day event at a rainy Arlington National Cemetery, Trump has not spoken to reporters since falsely declaring victory for himself, again, one week ago.
Biden, pushing forward with the formation of his government despite cooperation by Trump or his administration, will continue meeting with transition advisers in Wilmington, Delaware, after naming his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, a longtime Washington operative, late Wednesday.
Nov 12, 10:11 am
Slow-motion vote count is less than meets the eye
Nine days after voting ended, it’s clear that the election could take a while to wind down. That’s not because it was particularly close: Biden has cleared a 5-million-vote edge over Trump, in what’s looking like a record-turnout election that remains on track to deliver him as many electoral votes — 306 — as Trump won in 2016.
But the manual recount of votes in Georgia announced Wednesday will be painstaking and is unlikely to finish until a week from Friday. As the GOP secretary of state has acknowledged, this is exceedingly unlikely to change the margins in Georgia — and, of course, Trump needs even bigger turnabouts in states he lost more decisively, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, to have a plausible chance at a second term.
Does it matter? Not to Biden, who is running an orderly transition that stands in contrast with the chaos still coming from the White House. His choice of Ron Klain as chief of staff is another signal about normalcy — and a tacit acknowledgement that Biden understands concerns raised on his left.
Vote counting, though, seems destined to drag beyond this month. That would mark a win, under the circumstances, for the Trump team — with twin goals of seeing mistrust in the process and hoping for the equivalent of legal miracles.
It has become more clear in Washington and world capitals that Biden has won and will be the next president.
Trump is getting his wish, at least in one state, in slowing the process down. The institutions of governance, though, are holding through the delay — at least until the next flurry comes from the president.
-ABC News Political Director Rick Klein
Nov 11, 9:24 pm
Trump tweets support for McDaniel to continue leading GOP
The president tweeted Wednesday night his endorsement for current GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel to continue leading the Republican Party, and again falsely claimed he will win the election.
She is expected to seek a third term as RNC chairwoman, a source close to McDaniel tells ABC News.
Nov 11, 9:07 pm
Biden speaks with leaders from Australia, Japan and South Korea
Biden held more calls with world leaders Wednesday, speaking with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea.
This brings Biden’s total number of calls with world leaders to eight, including his calls with leaders from France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany from the previous two days.
Nov 11, 8:12 pm
Biden names Ron Klain White House chief of staff
President-elect Joe Biden has named Ron Klain his White House chief of staff, ABC News has confirmed.
The announcement of a chief of staff typically comes as one of the first big decisions for a president-elect — crucial because the person in that role can help determine a president’s style of governing.
Klain is Biden’s former chief of staff, who led the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola virus. He was considered a leading contender, in part because of the urgent need to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to serve President-elect Biden in this role, and I am humbled by his confidence,” Klain said in a news release about the announcement. “I look forward to helping him and the Vice President-elect assemble a talented and diverse team to work in the White House, as we tackle their ambitious agenda for change, and seek to heal the divides in our country.”
Klain served as a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, and has served as an executive at Revolution LLC, an investment firm founded by AOL founder Steve Case.
“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,” Biden said of Klain in the statement.
Nov 11, 6:55 pm
Trump met with senior advisers to discuss path forward: Sources
Trump earlier Wednesday met with senior advisers including Jared Kushner, Jason Miller and campaign manager Bill Stepien to discuss a post-election path forward as he publicly refuses to concede the election, multiple sources told ABC News.
It’s not necessarily unusual for the president to meet with senior advisers, but the meeting comes as the campaign continues pushing legal battles in several key states to dispute the election results. Trump has held several meetings with this group and other top aides since last week’s election.
Nov 11, 5:27 pm
Trump refusal to ease Biden transition opens ‘dangerous gaps’ in nation’s security: Experts
The refusal of a General Services Administration to acknowledge Biden’s election victory is stalling the president-elect’s ability to prepare for taking office, and opening what experts called “dangerous gaps” in the nation’s security heading into the transfer of power.
“It is deeply in our national interest to reduce the disruptions in a transition and try to make this go smoothly,” said Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana who has studied the issue. “The transition is a period of potential danger and increased risk to the country … and our adversaries know that.”
Years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the authors of the 9/11 Commission Report determined that the compressed transition timeframe ahead of George W. Bush’s inauguration “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees.”
Hamilton, who co-authored the 9/11 Commission Report, said Wednesday that those delays contributed to challenges in responding to the attacks and failure to address those delays opens up “dangerous gaps in the security posture of the United States.”
-ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman
Nov 11, 3:55 pm
Biden to name chief of staff as soon as this week
Biden is expected to name his White House chief of staff as soon as this week, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.
The announcement of a chief of staff typically comes as one of the first big decisions for a president-elect — crucial because the person in that role can help determine a president’s style of governing.
Biden’s former chief of staff Ron Klain, who led the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola virus, is considered a leading contender, in part because of the urgent need to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Other names on Biden’s short list are said to be Steve Richetti — a candidate opposed by progressives for his work as a lobbyist — and Bruce Reed, also both former chiefs of staff to Biden.
-ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Molly Nagle, Benajmin Siegel and John Santucci
Nov 11, 3:50 pm
Presidential transition expert stresses stakes of a smooth transition
David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition, a nonpartisan group that helps candidates and presidents prepare for the transition of power, told ABC News Live’s “The Breakdown” Wednesday afternoon it’s “absolutely imperative” Biden’s transition goes smoothly and that it’s is a matter of national security.
“What history shows is that transitions are a time of vulnerability where our adversaries seem to take advantage of the United States, and this is perhaps the most important transition the United States will experience since 1932 when we were in the depth of the Great Depression,” Marchick said.
“It’s imperative for the outgoing to assist the incoming to have a smooth transition of power,” David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition, says. https://t.co/VY1EoUXUfW #yvyvthebreakdown pic.twitter.com/VZGFgaAlu3
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) November 11, 2020
His comments come as the Biden transition team is in a standoff with the General Services Administration (GSA) which, typically, recognizes a candidate that has clearly won the election to allow the winning ticket’s team to access federal resources available to aid the transition process.
GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Trump in 2017, has made no such determination.
“This act called ascertainment has never been politicized,” Marchick added. “It’s always been granted within 24 hours of the outcome of an election being clear.”
Marchick said the one exception was in 2000 with Bush vs. Gore, but stressed that delay was only caused by one state and 537 votes. In 2020, he said, Biden’s winning margins in several key states surpass Trump by more than 10,000 votes.
“Here the outcome, as former President Bush himself said, is clear and it’s critical that the ascertainment go forward,” he added.
Nov 11, 2:31 pm
Trump campaign touts Georgia recount, legal battles
On a Trump campaign press call Wednesday, Rep. Doug Collins touted the announcement of a hand recount in Georgia as a “victory for transparency,” while the campaign claimed it was a step “closer to our goal and that is the president winning these states and ultimately being reelected” — despite Biden’s apparent win.
Collins, who is leading the Trump team’s recount efforts in the state, hinted that the recount would allow it to continue to look for evidence of fraud, saying “it allows us to, again, be looking for the concerns.”
Trump campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh, when asked if the campaign’s legal efforts are enough to change the election results as Trump would need to overturn results in multiple states to beat Biden — openly suggested “[overturning] the entire election” will be a “methodical” “process.”
“It is going to be methodical and it may be somewhat lengthy, but we have the time to get there. If everyone is looking for one single action that will be the silver bullet that overturns the entire election, it’s going to be a process,” he said.
Notably, a Georgia judge has already denied and dismissed the campaign’s lawsuit in the state. The suit had sought to force Chatham County to separate out late-arriving ballots over a concern that the county may have been mishandling ballots, an allegation based on an incident involving just 53 ballots. The judge said he saw “no evidence” to back up that claim. Judges in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada have also thrown out Trump campaign lawsuits.
-ABC News’ Will Steakin, Olivia Rubin, Terrance Smith and Justin Gomez
Nov 11, 1:15 pm
Biden meeting with his transition advisers amid GSA standoff
Aside from a brief public appearance to commemorate Veterans Day, Biden is meeting with transition advisers in Wilmington, Delaware, Wednesday as his transition team is in a standoff with the Trump administration over whether the General Services Administration (GSA) should recognize Biden as the president-elect, which would allow him access to federal resources for his transition.
Though the GSA is continuing to slow-walk its ascertainment of Biden, the Biden team is moving forward with its efforts, launching agency review teams and warning legal action is not off the table should the GSA administrator, a Trump appointee, continue to refuse to act.
Biden is also moving ahead, holding calls to world leaders, to tell them “America’s back,” and criticizing the president’s refusal to concede as “an embarrassment” that “will not help the President’s legacy.”
Meanwhile, Trump has stayed largely hidden in the White House following his apparent defeat — other than weekend golf outings and a Veterans Day event in Arlington Wednesday — but he and his allies are digging into legal battles and recounts as he maintains, “We will win.”
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle
Nov 11, 12:14 pm
Biden pens statement on Veterans Day with unity focus, Trump makes first public appearance since Biden projected winner
Ahead of a visit to the Philadelphia Korean War memorial at Penn’s Landing Wednesday morning, Biden issued a lengthy statement on Veterans Day, pledging his commitment to the “sacred obligation” the country has to those who serve and their families.
While Biden’s go-to line on the trail was slamming Trump on his “suckers” and “losers” comments reported in The Atlantic, Biden focused his statement on unity, pledging to “never treat you or your families with anything less than the honor you deserve.”
Trump, meanwhile, broke his five-day stretch of no public appearances when he ventured out of the White House to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. He also issued a proclamation in recognition of Veterans Day.
Nov 11, 11:20 am
Georgia to conduct hand recount of presidential election votes
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced this morning Georgia will conduct a “full, by hand recount in each county” of the presidential race.
“We have all worked hard to bring fair and accurate counts to assure that the will of the voters is reflected in the final count,” Raffensperger said.
Biden currently leads in the state by about 14,000 votes.
Nov 11, 9:48 am
Dan Sullivan projected to win Alaska Senate race, giving GOP at least 50 seats
Based upon the analysis of the vote, ABC News projects Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska will win reelection to the Senate, defeating Democrat Al Gross.
With this race, Mitch McConnell has 50 GOP Senate seats for the new Congress, meaning the best Democrats can hope for is a tied Senate — where they would have control by virtue of a Vice President Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes, in her role as president of the Senate.
The only two outstanding Senate races are now in Georgia, where both Senate seats are headed toward runoffs Jan. 5 — two days after the new Congress is sworn in.
Nov 11, 9:19 am
Biden opts out of Trump’s dangerous post-election game
To rekindle an infamous discussion, taking Trump literally at this precarious moment means the president believes the election was rigged against him; that he believes he received more lawful votes than his opponent; that he believes the vote count in a series of battleground states is flawed and corrupt; and that there are election officials and state and federal judges that are ready to deliver him a second term.
But this election was not particularly close — and, the above falsehoods notwithstanding, this period is exceedingly unlikely to end in any way other than with Biden being sworn in Jan. 20.
While Biden may have more reason than most to be offended by the behavior of Trump and Republicans in his Cabinet and in Congress, he isn’t sounding particularly concerned about the hold-up.
Asked by ABC News senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce Tuesday for his message to Trump, Biden responded, “Mr. President, I look forward to speaking with you.”
It’s a revealing response — not just because Biden and his team know the White House and transitions well. Biden is keeping his faith in the processes and systems that govern elections, in state capitals and in Washington.
Some Democrats may bristle at Biden’s refusal to condemn Republicans who are backing Trump.
Notably, Biden also said he looks forward to “a negotiation” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over his Cabinet picks Many progressives, of course, view McConnell as not worthy of negotiating with, and still more hope he will actually be minority leader in anyway.
Ugly as this moment is, and awful as it may get, Biden’s team sees this as the system holding its ground. Biden’s faith in a sturdy middle drove his campaign from the start and looks like a defining feature of what will become his presidency.
-ABC News’ Political Director Rick Klein
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