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Nov. 12 highlights: The Biden-Harris transition continues

Biden was projected to win Arizona, according to NBC News, extending his lead in the Electoral College to 290-217.
Image: Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of red and blue ripples with white stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The presidential transition continues its rocky course on Thursday with President Donald Trump still refusing to concede the election and President-elect Joe Biden putting forward more plans for his administration.

Trump met with several top aides on Wednesday to discuss a path forward as the vote count in several key states winds down. Biden, meanwhile, picked up another win in Arizona, NBC News projected, which brings his lead in the Electoral College to 290-217. There are only two states that have not yet been called: Georgia and North Carolina.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from Nov. 13, 2020.

Stories we're watching:

Trump may accept results but never concede he lost, aides say

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

More people who attended Trump's election night party test positive for Covid

Full presidential election results

Meghan McCain on Biden's projected win (really more on Trump's projected loss) in Arizona

NBC News

Biden wins Arizona, NBC News projects

NBC News

President-elect Joe Biden has won Arizona, NBC News projects

The state’s 11 Electoral College votes bring Biden’s lead to 290-217 and put further pressure on President Donald Trump, who has yet to concede the election.

NBC News projected Biden the overall winner on Saturday. Arizona hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1996. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton there.

The race was called on the ninth day of counting after Election Day. This leaves only North Carolina and Georgia as states that have not yet been called. They are both still rated as "too close to call." 


Trump discussing 2024 run announcement if election certified for Biden

A person familiar with the discussions confirms to NBC News that President Trump has told some advisers that if the election is certified for Joe Biden, he will announce a 2024 campaign in short order.

The New York Times first reported the news. It’s not clear which exact date Trump is referring to when talking about the the election being “certified.”

Pennsylvania judge sides with Trump campaign

The Associated Press

A Pennsylvania judge has sided with President Donald Trump’s campaign and ordered counties not to count a small number of mail-in or absentee ballots for which the voter didn’t submit valid identification within six days after the Nov. 3 election.

The injunction issued Thursday by Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt deals with an as-yet unknown number of ballots that may number a few thousand or fewer.

While the Trump campaign’s general counsel, Matt Morgan, called the order a “win," the ballots affected may not have been tabulated and are unlikely to affect the outcome in the state.

NBC News called Pennsylvania, and its 20 Electoral College votes, for Democrat Joe Biden on Saturday, which pushed him over the 270 vote threshold needed to win the presidential race. 

Biden held an approximately 55,000-vote margin Thursday night. But Trump has refused to concede, and his campaign and Republican allies have several lawsuits pending.

The court order affects a subset of about 10,000 ballots that arrived within three days of polls closing, a period allowed by the state Supreme Court because of concerns over the pandemic and delays in the U.S. Postal Service.

Former U.S. and foreign leaders press Trump, Republicans to accept election results

Dartunorro Clark

Several former U.S. and foreign leaders said Trump's refusal to concede is putting American democracy and national security at risk and pressed Republicans to support President-elect Biden's transition. 

The group of former leaders and human rights advocates known as The Elders, founded by Nelson Mandela, includes former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Irish president Mary Robinson, former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. 

Robinson, the chair of the 16-member group, said it was "shocking" to have to raise concerns similar to those in volatile, undemocratic situations in countries such as Kenya, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

"The continued assertions of electoral fraud by the President and some senior members of the Administration and of the Republican Party, offered as yet without any compelling evidence, convey a lack of respect for the integrity and independence of the democratic and legal institutions of the United States," the group said in a statement. "His fellow Republicans must now affirm their faith in the U.S. Constitution, democratic institutions and the rule of law, so the country can begin a process of reconciliation.”


Can Biden pick up the pieces of global trade after Trump's grueling tariff wars?

When President-elect Joe Biden takes over the White House in January, he will face a global economy that has fundamentally shifted over the last four years in part because of President Donald Trump's grueling trade war with China. But while Biden's rhetoric about Beijing appears cool, retailers who have been hammered by import tariffs aren't expecting a sea change in policy.

"I think President Biden is going to be tough on China — but maybe a different kind of tough," said Stephen Lamar, CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, an industry trade group. "We think the administration is going to be more predictable and less chaotic than what we've seen over the last four years."

Trump made being tough on China a cornerstone of his foreign policy, accusing the country of intellectual property theft and currency manipulation to gain an unfair competitive advantage in international trade, while issuing tit-for-tat trade rhetoric over Twitter. As the administration rolled out four tariff tranches on aluminum, steel and household goods to pursue "America first" production policies, retailers scrambled to reconfigure their supply chains and export manufacturing to countries outside China.

But whereas Trump's "go it alone" strategy to decrease the country's dependence on China resulted in chaos, Biden's "Made in America" plan leans on multilateral alliances to bring critical supply chains back to the U.S. He promises to invest $400 billion in procurement measures to boost domestic manufacturing and to pour $300 billion into research and development.

Biden won't rule out new tariffs, but he would likely "use tariffs when they're needed but backed by a strategy and a plan," Tony Blinken, a former Obama adviser — who is being touted as a possible secretary of state in the new administration — said in September.

Click here to read the full story.

Obama says Trump's unfounded election fraud claims put country on a 'dangerous path'

Dartunorro Clark

Former President Obama said that Republicans officials "clearly know better" than to advance the President Trump's baseless election fraud claims, which he said puts the country on a "dangerous path." 

In a clip of a "60 Minutes" interview released Thursday, Obama said the unfounded voter fraud claims "appear to be motivated, in part, because the president doesn't like to lose and never admits loss."

"I'm more troubled by the fact that other Republican officials who clearly know better are going along with this, are humoring him in this fashion," Obama added. "It is one more step in delegitimizing, not just the incoming Biden administration, but democracy generally. And that's a dangerous path."


The full interview with CBS' Scott Pelley, which is about his new book "A Promised Land," is scheduled to air Sunday. 

Trump has refused to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden and has launched a series of lawsuits with allegations of widespread fraud in several states. There is no evidence to support the president's claims. While some Republicans have congratulated President-elect Biden on winning the election, others have said Mr. Trump's claims need to be examined.


Trump's own agencies and state election officials say there is no widespread voter fraud


Dartunorro Clark

Dartunorro Clark, Tom Winter and Kevin Collier

A coalition of federal agencies involved in election security and representatives for election officials from each state refuted the widespread claims of voter fraud by the president and right-wing conspiracists in a statement Thursday.

“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result," the  Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council said in a statement. "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." 

It comes as the president tweeted, in all caps, a baffling conspiracy theory from the right-wing fringe news network One America News Network, claiming that millions of ballots were deleted and some were switched from Trump to President-elect Biden.

The council, which includes the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Association of Secretaries of State, emphasized there was no machine manipulation in its statement and noted that every ballot cast and tabulated by machine also has a secure paper backup to correct errors if they occur. 

“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too," the council said. "When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

As of Thursday evening, Chris Krebs, the head of CISA, is still employed, despite media accounts suggesting he could be fired at any point because the agency recently created a site debunking various myths about voter fraud advanced by President Trump and his allies.

Trump campaign general counsel Matt Morgan was asked about the discrepancy between the Trump tweet and the CISA statement in a call with reporters and sidestepped the question. “We expect to thoroughly pursue our investigation into whether the irregularities in Michigan were replicated in other jurisdictions in this country,” Morgan said.




Former officials says lack of Biden intelligence briefings is a national security risk

Nicole Via y Rada

Over 150 former national security officials in a letter on Thursday urged the GSA to recognize Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the winners of the election, giving them access to the President's Daily Briefing and to begin to obtain the security clearances necessary for members of the transition team.

"In this moment of uncertainty, we must put politics aside," the letter, obtained by NBC News, reads.

"Further delaying the Biden team’s ability to access the President’s Daily Brief and other national security information and resources compromises the continuity and readiness of our national leadership, with potentially immense consequences for our national security."

The group, which includes several former Trump administration officials, warned of serious national security risks as a result of the delay in Biden's transition. Other signatories include retired lawmakers and national security officials who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Read more here.

More GOP senators push for Biden to receive intelligence briefings

A number of Senate Republicans on Thursday increased the pressure on the General Services Administration to grant President-elect Biden access to presidential-level intelligence briefings, a key step in transitioning to the White House.

The congressional Republicans stopped short of acknowledging that President Trump has been defeated, but acknowledged a need for Biden to begin to get critical information about the nation's security.

"Our adversaries aren’t going to wait for you to catch up to take action," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., head of the Intelligence Committee. "Giving them access to additional information doesn’t prejudice the president’s electoral claims."

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the most senior Senate Republican, also said Biden should be received intelligence briefings. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump's most vocal supporters on Capitol Hill, said Biden should receive the presidential-level security briefings

Read more here.

O'Rourke offers takeaways on Democrats' performance in Texas

Natalia Abrahams

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke didn't mince words in an email to supporters outlining his explanation of Republicans’ success in Texas on election night — and the failings of the Democratic Party.

The former Democratic presidential candidate made called out the national party as well as Texas Democrats for ignoring the border area, from the Rio Grande Valley to El Paso, when trying to reach voters. O’Rourke said there was a failure to invest in year-round canvassing to get to know the voters outside of election years.

Republicans, meanwhile, were able "to use dominance in government (Republicans hold every statewide office) to maximize voter suppression and raise and deploy massive campaign donations across the state," O'Rourke said. He added that "the power of the national race to produce record turn out without having the Democratic ticket make a meaningful investment in Texas, were all factors that contributed to GOP and Trump success in our state."

O’Rourke also emphasized what he said was the GOP's "ferocious" use of digital and social media platforms to spread what he said were "lies and powerful memes, effectively targeting new and young voters," saying Democrats "have to be far more effective" in the digital landscape. 

As next steps, O'Rourke urged Democrats to find safe ways to knock on doors, to reach out to voters year-round, and not to feel obligated to adopt conventional Democratic messaging. Instead, candidates need to discover their own ways to connect with voters, he said.

Democratic Rep. Max Rose concedes New York race after ugly election fight

Democratic Rep. Max Rose conceded defeat Thursday in his brutal election fight with Republican Nicole Malliotakis in New York, further chipping away at the Democrats' slim House majority. 

Rose, who flipped a seat in the most conservative New York City district in 2018, said in a statement that the absentee ballots that he had hoped would swing the vote in his favor had narrowed Malliotakis' lead, but not enough for him to win.

"I promise every resident of the 11th Congressional District that we will ensure a smooth transition," Rose said, calling the opportunity represent the district, which represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, "the honor of my life."

Malliotakis described Rose's call as "gracious," and thanked the Army veteran "for his service to our nation in both the military and in Congress."

Malliotakis, a state assemblywoman, made a name for herself in 2017 when she challenged Bill de Blasio for mayor. 

Rose's race against her was marked by huge amounts of negative advertising, with ads portraying each other as liars. Rose also ran a brief ad attacking the unpopular de Blasio, but Malliotakis portrayed them as being on the same side. "As much as Max tries to distance himself from Mayor de Blasio, it's clear that he supports a lot of same policies," she said. 

With 85 percent of the vote reported at the time of Rose's concession, NBC News had not yet called the race. 

Georgia Secretary of State to quarantine after wife tests positive for Covid


Priscilla Thompson

Blayne Alexander

Olivia Santini

Charlie Gile

Priscilla Thompson, Blayne Alexander, Olivia Santini and Charlie Gile

As the state of Georgia prepares to recount nearly 5-million ballots by hand, the state’s top election official is heading into quarantine.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensburger's wife Tricia tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday after returning from an out-of-town trip with symptoms, Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs confirmed.

The secretary has now been tested and now plans to self-quarantine. Fuchs said she and other staffers are working to get tested now too.

A maskless Brad Raffensburger spoke on camera on Wednesday flanked by various staffers and election officials.

Another top elections official, Gabriel Sterling, held a press conference on Thursday where he also spoke maskless. Sterling declined to confirm the secretary’s Covid-19 status, though he said he would likely get tested too.

Pope Francis congratulates Biden on projected election win

Nicole Via y Rada

President-elect Joe Biden spoke with Pope Francis on Thursday, according to his transition team. 

Biden, a devout Catholic, thanked the Pope for "extending blessings and congratulations," saying he expressed a desire to work together "on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind."

Biden's faith made a presence on his victory speech, where he cited the Catholic hymn, "On Eagles' Wings." He closed his speech with the hymn, adding: "And now, together — on eagle’s wings — we embark on the work that God and history have called upon us to do."

Biden is the only the second Catholic president, following President John F. Kennedy. 

RNC chief of staff tests positive for Covid-19

Republic National Committee chief of staff Richard Walters has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a GOP official.

The RNC says it is following CDC guidance and notifying staff who came into contact with him about their potential exposure.

Unlike other Trump allies who have recently tested positive, Walters was not at the White House election night party.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel tested positive for Covid-19 last month.

Corey Lewandowski the latest member of Trump circle to test positive for Covid-19

Corey Lewandowski, who has been a part of President Trump campaign’s legal challenges, has tested positive for Covid-19, a source familiar with the diagnosis tells NBC News.

Lewandowski confirmed the diagnosis in text message to CNBC, saying, "I feel great."

Lewandowski is the latest person to test positive for the virus after attended last week's Election Night party at the White House. His diagnosis follows chief of staff Mark Meadows and Housing, Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and several White House staffers.

Lewandowski was also in Philadelphia, in recent days, including at the news conference last Saturday at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping with Rudy Giuliani and Pam Bondi.

Read the story.

Schumer calls on Trump, GOP to stop their 'temper tantrum' over the election results

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced President Donald Trump and Republicans on Thursday for sowing doubt in and refusing to accept the presidential election results.

“The election is not in doubt," Schumer said at joint news conference with Pelosi on Capitol Hill. "This is nothing more than a temper tantrum by Republicans, nothing more than a pathetic political performance for an audience of one: President Donald John Trump.”

Schumer said the results of the 2020 presidential election cannot be compared to the 2000 election, which came down to Florida and a difference of several hundred votes.

“Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College has been secured by several states, where tens of thousands of votes separate the candidates," he said. "Joe Biden leads Wisconsin by 20,000, Pennsylvania ... 50,000, Michigan ... 146,000. That's the facts. Biden's won. Nothing Republicans or Trump can do will change that.”

Read the story.

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

Nicole Via y Rada

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

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is the latest Republican to refer to Biden as the president-elect.

Read the full list of Republicans who have publicly acknowledged the former vice president is the winner of the election.

FIRST READ: The path to 270 is changing, fast


Mark Murray

Carrie Dann

Melissa Holzberg

Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg

In 2004, George W. Bush won Colorado by more than 4 percentage points and Virginia by 8 points, while winning the presidency by capturing Ohio by some 100,000 votes.

Sixteen years later — and with still not all the vote in — President-elect Joe Biden won Colorado by more than 13 points and carried Virginia by 10 points, while outgoing President Donald Trump appears to have won Ohio by 8 points for a second-straight cycle.

It’s all a reminder that electoral maps aren’t forever.

With changing demographics, education levels and political coalitions, how our states break in presidential elections aren’t set in stone.

Get First Read.

Biden wants to scrap Betsy DeVos' rules on sexual assault in schools. It won't be easy.

Photo illustration of University of Rochester and Betsy deVos with feminism symbol overlaid.
Adam Maida for NBC News / Getty Images

The Biden administration will have limited options to scrap Title IX regulations implemented three months ago that control how schools deal with sexual assault cases.

The Trump administration's rules, which were opposed by anti-rape activists and K-12 and college administrators, gave more rights to students accused of assault and restricted how schools are allowed to investigate sexual misconduct allegations.

Proponents of the new rules, including Republicans and the civil liberties nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, celebrated them as a balanced approach to the gender equity law Title IX. But Democrats and advocates for assault victims, including the National Women's Law Center, argued that the regulations would discourage students from reporting assaults.

Read the story. 

'Ohio has taken a different turn': Ohio no longer appears to be a swing state

Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in get out the vote event at Burke Lakefront Airport on Nov. 2, 2020 in Cleveland.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

CINCINNATI — President-elect Joe Biden is the first person to win the presidency without carrying Ohio since 1960.

Biden's victory, and the matter in which he won, left many political pundits wondering what it means for the bellwether state moving forward.

"I think that Ohio really isn't a representative of the whole country the way that it once was," said Mark Caleb Smith, a professor of political science at Cedarville University in Ohio.

"Ohio now is a much more red state than it is a purple state," Smith said. "If you look at recent elections, statewide, presidential or gubernatorial, Republicans have done extremely well. I just think that means Ohio has taken a different turn. I think Ohio has shifted a little bit and it's no longer that middle part of the country — it's probably a little more on the right, traditional, conservative side."

Some national political experts take it a step further.

Read the story.

U.S.-Saudi ties were especially close under Trump. Under Biden, that looks likely to change

Image: President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in 2018.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images file

When President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia on his first official foreign visit in 2017, he was showered with pageantry and flanked by a herd of horsemen carrying Saudi and American flags.

The relationship between the two countries has remained cozy throughout his administration.

But as Joe Biden prepares to become the 46th president, it is improbable that he will make Riyadh a repeat port of call.

Biden has pledged to "reassess" the U.S. relationship with the oil-rich, deeply conservative kingdom, and Saudi Arabia is likely to have a less privileged and personal relationship with the Biden administration than it has had with the Trump team, some analysts say.

Read the story.

GOP Sen. Lankford: 'I will step in' if GSA doesn't certify election by Friday for Biden to receive intel briefings

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said Wednesday that if the General Services Administration doesn't start allowing President-elect Joe Biden to receive intelligence briefings as the president-elect by Friday, he will step in. 

"There is no loss from him getting the briefings and to be able to do that. And if that's not occurring by Friday, I will step in as well and to be able to push them and say this needs to occur, so that regardless of the outcome of the election, whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task," Lankford said in an interview with Tulsa’s KRMG Radio. 

Lankford joined some of his other Republican colleagues, saying that the transition process should begin and the "GSA has to certify that election to start turning it around. The first day they can do that on the calendar is Friday."

"There's nothing wrong with Vice President Biden getting the briefings to be able to prepare himself and so that he can be ready," Lankford said.

State Dept. not passing on messages to Biden from foreign leaders

Abigail Williams

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Abigail Williams and Rebecca Shabad

Trump administration officials are not passing on messages to President-elect Joe Biden from foreign officials who reach out through traditional diplomatic channels to convey their congratulations to him, two current and one former official told NBC News.

The messages have been piling at the State Department due to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's refusal to move forward with the transition until that's been authorized by the General Services Administration, which has so far refused to budge.

The story was first reported by CNN.

Meanwhile, Biden has been able to maneuver around this roadblock and has received some congratulatory phone calls, including from the leaders of Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea on Wednesday evening.

NBC News reported earlier this week that U.S. missions abroad have received no clear guidance from Washington about how they should communicate with foreign governments about the election and President Donald Trump's decision not to concede the election, according to two U.S. officials in overseas posts familiar with the matter.  

Pompeo also held a call last week with politically-appointed ambassadors to discuss the current situation, current and former state department official confirmed to NBC News. Career ambassadors did not participate, the officials said.

Biden picks longtime aide Ron Klain as chief of staff


Geoff Bennett

Dartunorro Clark

Mike Memoli, Kristen Welker, Geoff Bennett and Dartunorro Clark

President-elect Joe Biden named Ron Klain, a veteran of Capitol Hill, to be his White House chief of staff, the transition team said Wednesday.

Klain is a longtime Democratic operative who has strong ties to Biden, largely as his former chief of staff during Biden’s first years as vice president. He also coordinated the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak, giving him both familiarity with Biden and important credentials as the Covid-19 response will consume Biden’s opening months. 

Since being the projected winner of the presidential race, Biden has been focused on building a team that will enter the White House with him on Inauguration Day as he looks to fill several thousand jobs in his administration, people familiar with the process told NBC News. 

Click here for the full story

Biden's key immigration policies face uphill battle

The incoming Biden administration has promised to unroll President Donald Trump's legacy on immigration, but it faces an uphill battle to make good on that promise.

Three people involved in crafting Biden's immigration platform said that the changes will be hard-fought and that they may not happen all at once.

Read more here.

Travel industry shows signs of perking up after vaccine news, Biden victory

Harriet Baskas

The travel industry has lost $443 billion since the coronavirus took hold in March, according to the U.S. Travel Association, an industry nonprofit.

While those losses are sure to increase as the recent spike in Covid-19 infection rates keeps many travelers grounded, some industry experts say they are buoyed by President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration and positive vaccine news from Pfizer.

Read more here.

Big money rolling into Georgia ahead of marquee Senate battle

Georgia Senate hopefuls have already begun booking millions of dollars on the television airwaves ahead of the likely two runoffs there in early January that could decide the balance of power of the Senate. 

As of Wednesday, Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock has $2.6 million booked on the airwaves for the runoff, according to data from the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. His opponent, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, just started booking TV time on Wednesday — about $200,000 with more expected. 

In the other possible runoff, which NBC News has not called, GOP Sen. David Perdue has already booked a whopping $10.6 million to Democrat Jon Ossoff's $1.6 million. 

Read more here.

How concessions have smoothed presidential transitions in the past