IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Nov. 10 highlights: Presidency transition continues despite challenges to election results

The president-elect delivered remarks on Obamacare as the Supreme Court considers whether to overturn it.
Image: Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of red and blue ripples with white stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday is outlining more details of his transition plan even as President Donald Trump and other top Republicans continue to challenge the results of last week's election.

At the top of Biden's priorities is tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, which Trump faced strong criticism over throughout the campaign. Biden on Tuesday will also deliver remarks on the Affordable Care Act as the Supreme Court hears arguments on whether to overturn the landmark health care law.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from Nov. 10, 2020.

Latest updates below:

Latest group of GOP senators to say Biden transition should begin

On Tuesday, four GOP Senators told reporters that the Biden team should have access to resources needed for an orderly transition. 

Trump has refused to concede the race, and the vast majority of Republicans in Congress and elsewhere have yet to acknowledge the Democrats' win. A little-known agency known as the General Services Administration headed by a Trump appointee as yet to sign a letter giving the Biden team access 

Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said it is likely that Biden is the next president and it's important for a transition process to begin. “We're on a path it looks likely Joe Biden is going to be the next president of the United I think a transition process ought to begin," he said. 

Marco Rubio of Florida said the president can pursue lawsuits but "need to have that contingency in place," referring to a Biden transition. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said while the president is in court the transition should "move forward." 

Mitt Romney, who has congratulated Biden and Harris, told NBC News that "it's very much in our national interest, in our foreign policy interest, national security interest" for Biden to have a smooth transition.

Click here for other Republicans who have broken with Trump and say the transition should begin.

Budget process moving forward

In another sign of how the Trump administration is taking cues from the president’s refusal to concede the presidential race, the Office of Management and Budget is moving ahead with the new budget for the fiscal year, which is largely a symbolic document.

“We are in the middle of budget season," An OMB spokesperson told NBC News.

Keep in mind the budget is typically released in February — and by the time that month comes around, President Trump won’t be in office anymore.

Biden's lead in Arizona tightens as more ballots processed in Maricopa County

Biden's lead over Trump in Arizona has dwindled from 13,582 to 12,813 as Maricopa County, the largest county in the state, processed more than 5,000 ballots on Tuesday. 

More than 2 million voters cast a ballot in the county, which represents about 80 percent of total eligible voters, according to a release. 

The remaining ballots include (estimated):

  • 9,347 early ballots
  • 1,300 early ballots to verify
  • 18,404 provisional ballots in total
  • 5,783 valid provisionals that will be counted
  • 6,595 invalid provisionals that will not be counted
  • 6,026 remaining provisional ballots left to verify

NBC News has rated the state as too close to call. Biden is in the lead with 49.4 percent of the vote and Trump has 49.0 percent, with 98 percent of the vote in as of Tuesday. 

Trump loyalists given top Pentagon roles after several officials resign following Esper's ouster

Several loyalists to President Donald Trump were promoted to top roles in the Pentagon on Tuesday after officials tendered resignations following the unceremonious ouster of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The Pentagon confirmed the resignations of the department’s top officials for policy and intelligence in a press release. The resignations include: Acting undersecretary for policy James Anderson; undersecretary for intelligence Joseph Kernan; and Esper's chief of staff Jen Stewart. The release noted that Kernan's resignation was "planned for several months."

Anthony Tata, a retired Army general and frequent Fox News guest, will replace Anderson. Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who currently works in Defense and is a former aide to disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, will replace Kernan. Kash Patel, a former National Security Council official and former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who worked on the controversial House probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, will replace Stewart.

The shakeup comes after the president announced Monday that he fired Esper as his defense secretary and said Christopher Miller, who headed the counterterrorism center, would serve as the acting secretary of the Department of Defense. Esper's ouster was Trump's first personnel move since losing the election and has prompted Democrats to raise national security concerns as President-elect Joe Biden begins his transition.

Click here for the full story. 

First lady hasn't connected with Jill Biden about transition

As we continue tracking the stop-start nature of this transition, first lady Melania Trump's office hasn’t connected with the Biden side on transition either.

“As far as I know, President Trump hasn’t conceded yet so that doesn’t surprise me,” said a spokesperson for Jill Biden. 

Michelle Obama told Gayle King in an interview that Trump never once reached out to her as first lady. 

Biden says he'll do 'anything we can' for Georgia Senate candidates

President-elect Joe Biden vowed Tuesday to help the two Senate Democratic candidates who appear headed for runoffs in Georgia

"We're going to do anything we can, that they think we can do to help them," Biden told reporters in Delaware of Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

Warnock is facing Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a runoff of Jan. 5. NBC News has not yet made a projection in the Ossoff race, though Republican Sen. David Perdue is currently below the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff. He and Ossoff have both started raising money for a runoff.

Republicans currently have a 49-48 seat edge over the Democrats in the Senate, where 51 seats are needed for a majority. NBC News has not made a projection on a remaining seat up for grabs in Alaska, but incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan currently has a commanding lead there with 61 percent of the vote in. 

If the Democrats win both Georgia seats, they'd effectively have a majority because Kamala Harris, as vice president, could act as tiebreaker.

"Obviously it would be much better if we had a tie in the Senate," Biden said, adding that it would make Harris' role "incredibly important beyond what she already is."

Biden hopes to announce some Cabinet picks in next two weeks

President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday that he hoped to unveil some of his Cabinet picks in the next two weeks and predicted they would be confirmable by the Senate.

"I hope we're able to be in a position to let people know, at least a couple that we want before Thanksgiving, and we'll just work this out," Biden said. "Look, I am not a pessimist, as you know."

Answering questions from reporters in Wilmington after delivering a speech on strengthening the Affordable Care Act, Biden acknowledged that control of the Senate is still up in the air and he might need Republican support for some of his picks, which would mean working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"I understand he said he will make it clear who he is prepared to support and not to support, and that's a negotiation that I'm sure we'll have," Biden said. "Look, one of the things that I would do as president-elect and when I become president is lay out to Republicans, as well as Democrats, who we intend to name for each Cabinet position." 

Biden calls Trump's failure to concede 'an embarrassment'

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday called President Donald Trump's failure to concede the election "an embarrassment," but said neither that nor the Trump administration's stonewalling will stop him from getting to work.

Asked for his thoughts on the anxiety some Americans feel over the president's refusal to publicly admit defeat, Biden said, "I just think it's an embarrassment, quite frankly."

"It will not help the president’s legacy," Biden said, before adding that he didn't think Trump's resistance would wind up mattering.

"I think at the end of the day, it will all come to fruition on Jan. 20," Biden said, referring to Inauguration Day. Biden answered questions from reporters after delivering a speech on the importance of improving the Affordable Care Act in Wilmington.

Trump has so far refused to concede despite network projections that he's lost, and hard numbers that show Biden leads him by more than 10,000 votes in at least three swing states Trump would have to flip — a margin that has not been overcome in any sort of statewide recount previously. Some Republicans have said the president, who has maintained that he won the election, should wait to concede until the votes are certified.

Read more here.

Democrat Cal Cunningham concedes to Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina race

Democrat Cal Cunningham conceded to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis in the North Carolina race Tuesday, increasing the stakes in the outcomes of Georgia's Senate races, which appear likely to determine control of the chamber.

NBC News had projected the race as too close to call, but declared Tillis the winner shortly after Cunningham conceded the race. The win gives Republicans 49 seats in the Senate, while Democrats have 48, with two races in Georgia and one in Alaska still outstanding.

“I just called Senator Tillis to congratulate him on winning re-election to a second term in the U.S. Senate and wished him and his family the best in their continued service in the months and years ahead," Cunningham said in a statement. “The voters have spoken and I respect their decision."

"While the results of this election suggest there remain deep political divisions in our state and nation," he added, "the more complete story of our country lies in what unites us: our faith and sense of confidence in our democracy, our civic values and common humanity, our shared aspiration to care for one another, and our belief that we live in a country that does exceptional things."

Democrats would need to win two of the three remaining Senate contests to gain control of the chamber — with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.

Read more here.

Republicans who have broken with Trump to congratulate Biden on his win

A small but growing group of prominent Republicans have broken with President Donald Trump and the rest of their party in congratulating President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their election victory.

Trump has refused to concede the race, and the vast majority of Republicans in Congress and elsewhere have yet to acknowledge the Democrats' win.

Here are the Republicans who have publicly congratulated the president-elect and vice president-elect.

Smirking Pompeo says there will be a transition to a 'second Trump administration'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laughed off a question about the transition of power during a press briefing Tuesday, instead saying there "will be a smooth transition to our second Trump administration."

The comments come as Trump has refused to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, who leads by more than 10,000 votes in at least three swing states Trump would have to flip — a margin that has not been overcome in any sort of statewide recount previously. Meanwhile, the president's legal actions so far have not shown allegations of widespread voter fraud and appear unlikely to change the results of any election in court.

Even without Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina called —  Biden is leading in two of the three — the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee is projected to have won more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Yet, with Trump refusing to concede, the administration is slow-walking the transition process.

"There will be a smooth transition to our second Trump administration," Pompeo said, offering up a laugh after the comment. "Right. We're ready. The world is watching what's taking place, we're going to count all the votes. When the process is completed, there'll be electors selected. There's that process the Constitution lays it out pretty clearly."

"The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today and successful with a president who's in office on Jan. 20 a minute after noon will also be successful," he continued, adding, "I'm very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make sure that the government, the United States government, continues to perform its national security function as we go forward."

World leaders from the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and Turkey, among others, have already congratulated Biden on his victory, some of whom have spoken with him over the phone.

Read the story.

Biden gets congratulatory calls from European leaders Johnson, Macron and Merkel

President-elect Joe Biden got congratulatory calls from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — who has a close relationship with President Donald Trump — publicly congratulated Biden on the election win that Trump has yet to recognize. 

Johnson, who Biden reportedly called Trump’s “physical and emotional clone” last year, tweeted that he had just spoken to Biden "to congratulate him on his election." "I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and to working with him on our shared priorities — from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic,"  Johnson said, a play on Biden's campaign slogan of "Build Back Better."

Macron, whose more complicated relationship with Trump included epic tug-of-war-style handshakes, also spoke to Biden on Tuesday "to congratulate him and Kamala Harris on their election,” the Elysee press office said. 

Merkel, who Trump once accused of “ruining Germany,” also called Biden to congratulate him and Harris. “The Chancellor expressed the wish for a close and trustful future cooperation,“ the German government statement said.

Erdogan, who Trump said last year he was a "big fan" of,  also congratulated Biden in a statement. He said that the “strong cooperation and alliance” between the Turkey and the U.S. would continue to contribute to world peace, according to a translation of his remarks by Reuters.

House chairs direct Trump administration to preserve records related to investigations

Democratic House committee chairs sent letters Tuesday to the White House and federal agencies directing them to preserve documents related to congressional subpoenas and investigations. 

“Over the last four years, the administration obstructed numerous congressional investigations by refusing to provide responsive information,” the House chairs wrote in letters to agencies and White House counsel Pat Cipollone. 

“You are obligated to ensure that any information previously requested by Congress — and any other information that is required by law to be preserved — is saved and appropriately archived in a manner that is easily retrievable," they said. 

The request covers documents and electronic messages and metadata "involving official business that were sent using both official and personal accounts or devices, including communications through text messaging, phone-based message applications, or encryption software," a press release about the letters said. 

Read the story.

Ossoff warns health care protections are on the line in expected Georgia runoffs

Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, whose race against GOP Sen. David Perdue is likely headed toward a Jan. 5 runoff election, on Tuesday slammed Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., for supporting the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. 

Ossoff said that both Perdue and Loeffler, who will face Democrat Raphael Warnock in the Jan. 5 runoff, support the lawsuit being heard Tuesday by the Supreme Court. Ossoff warned that health care protections are on the line in these races, which will determine control of the Senate. 

“This is why these Senate runoffs are so vital," Ossoff said at a press conference in Atlanta, "Because if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, then it will be up to Congress to decide how to legislate such that pre-existing conditions remain covered. And if Mitch McConnell and David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are determining the course of policy, then they will allow the Supreme Court's ruling to stand and to undermine those protections for pre-existing conditions."

"So if we do not win the Senate races, and if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, then Georgia families and Georgians with asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer will be at risk of having their health coverage denied by insurance companies," he added.

Asked what he would do as senator if Obamacare is dismantled next year, Ossoff said he would work to "not only reinstate those protections for pre-existing conditions, but we strengthen them. And we crack down on price-gouging for prescriptions by drug companies, and we ensure that we are expanding access to health care for Georgians instead of destroying it.”

NBC News says the race between Ossoff and Perdue is still too close to call. 

Watchdog group finds no evidence to support Trump's election fraud claims

An international group invited by the Trump administration to observe the presidential election found no evidence to support the president's claims of fraud, it said in a report.

The Organization of American States sent 28 observers from 13 countries to watch elections in several states, including Georgia and Michigan, at all stages including early voting and on Election Day, as well as vote tabulation, at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State.

But noting that Trump had claimed he has only lost in those states because of "fraud," the organization wrote: "The OAS observers deployed in the battleground states of Michigan and Georgia did not witness any of the aforementioned irregularities."

FIRST READ: In appeasing Trump, the GOP toys with a constitutional crisis

Image: Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 4. Jon Cherry / Getty Images

In 2016, Donald Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined 77,000 votes; he got 306 electoral votes; and he received a concession speech by Hillary Clinton and a White House meeting with Barack Obama 48 hours after the election.

In 2020, Joe Biden won those same three states by a combined 214,000 votes (and counting); he’s on track for an identical 306 electoral votes; and Trump, his administration and GOP leaders are still refusing to recognize the outcome.

While it’s easy to dismiss this refusal as the last gasp of Trumpism — Republicans trying to appease the president one last time before he exits the White House — it also feels close to a country stumbling into a constitutional crisis.

Get First Read.

Trump expected to launch leadership PAC

President Trump is expected to launch a leadership PAC as soon as this month, according to Trump campaign officials, who argue its creation was always in the works, “win or lose.” 

This would allow Trump to raise money once he leaves office as an intermediary vehicle and as he contemplates a potential 2024 run. Funds raised could pay for his travel and political consultants over the next few years, for example.

“The president always planned to do this, win or lose, so he can support candidates and issues he cares about, such as combating voter fraud,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh told NBC News in a statement. 

Allies have been discussing this possibility with the president for some time, NBC News has reported. Even before the election, Trump had doubts that he would win. The president told advisers in the weeks before Nov. 3 that he would consider a presidential run in 2024 if he lost, according to a person familiar with the conversations. Trump has mentioned the idea again over the past week, and his allies have discussed the possibility of him setting up a super PAC.

Rep. Doug Collins calls on Georgia officials to conduct vote recount by hand

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who was chosen by the Trump campaign to oversee the recount in Georgia, said Tuesday that his state should conduct it by hand instead of simply rescanning ballots. 

In a statement released by the Trump campaign, Collins said, "the Secretary of State should announce a full hand-count of every ballot cast in each and every county due to widespread allegations of voter irregularities, issues with voting machines, and poll watcher access."

"We can — and we will — petition for this in court after statewide certification is completed if the secretary of state fails to act," he added.

This comes after Georgia’s Republican senators called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign, something he said he has no intention of doing. Georgia's election officials have said that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud and that any instances of fraud or irregularities are unlikely to change the outcome of the election.

HHS Secretary: Coronavirus 'general vaccination' programs by spring

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar predicted Tuesday that there would be enough Covid-19 vaccine for general public vaccination campaigns by spring 2021.

In an appearance on the TODAY show, Azar outlined what he said would be the distribution schedule for Pfizer's and other companies' experimental vaccines, none of which are approved, but Pfizer said Monday its vaccine is over 90 percent effective at preventing coronavirus infection.

Azar said the pharmaceutical giant is ramping up to deliver 20 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine monthly by the end of November.

Azar forecasted that there would be enough of the vaccine to inoculate at-risk nursing home residents, health care workers and first responders by the end of January and that there should be "enough for all Americans by the end of March to early April to have general vaccination programs."

Read the story.

Some publishers cool to post-White House book by Trump

One of publishing’s most thriving genres of the past four years, books about President Donald Trump, is not going to end when he leaves office.

In 2021 and beyond, look for waves of releases about the Trump administration and about the president’s loss to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Works already planned include the anti-Trump “Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response,” by former Obamacare head Andy Slavitt. There’s a campaign book from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns. And former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is reportedly working on a memoir.

Expect detailed condemnations of the 45th president’s actions and rhetoric, from journalists and former associates, and also flattering accounts from White House allies and pro-Trump pundits. And there might well be a book from Trump himself, who received more than 70 million votes even as he became the first president in nearly 30 years to be defeated after one term.

“It was a very controversial presidency and the New York publishing world isn’t exactly packed with Trump fans,” says Matt Latimer of the Javelin literary agency, where clients have included former FBI Director James Comey, former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Fox host Tucker Carlson. “But there are tens of millions of Americans who look to the Trump presidency as an important time and are fans of his administration. At least some publishers will recognize that.”

Read the story.

There's a plan afoot to replace the Electoral College, and your state may already be part of it

Colorado voters have decided to join a growing list of states that will decide a president by popular vote, the latest move in a national chess match over the way the United States elects its presidents.

Called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, the agreement calls for states to award their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.

So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have approved the pact, covering 196 electoral votes of the required 270 to win the presidency.

Read more here.

Even with a vaccine, U.S. economy faces long path toward recovery

Despite news of a promising vaccine, the U.S. is still on track for a slow and grueling economic recovery, economists said.

"What we're seeing [in Monday's stock market rally] is a hope that a vaccine will return life to normal enough to favor those industries that have been heavily sold off," said Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy with the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

An end to the economic turmoil from the virus depends on the distribution of the vaccine, which comes with numerous risks and challenges, Pfizer told NBC News. For instance, the vaccine must be stored at below 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which requires specially designed refrigerators and vials.

Read more here.

Trump aides fret about damage from refusal to accept loss

As President Donald Trump continues to fight the presidential election results, numerous people close to him are expressing concern that he's spiraling into rage and hurting his own legacy, as well as the Republican Party.

Those concerns were exacerbated Monday when Trump blindsided officials throughout the White House and at the Pentagon by firing Secretary of Defense Mark Esper with a tweet, multiple people close to the president said. The hope, these people said, is that this week ends differently than the last, and that the president’s lawsuits challenging the election results in multiple states quickly run their course.

Read more here.

McConnell shrugs off Trump concession delay

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday hailed Republican victories in last week's election before saying President Donald Trump was right not to concede the presidential race because no states have certified their results yet.

"Obviously, no states have yet certified their election results. We have at least one or two states that are already on track to a recount, and I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states," McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the claims of widespread voter fraud by Trump and his supporters "dangerous" and "extremely poisonous."

Read more here.