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.
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.