President-elect Joe Biden pushed forward with his transition planning Wednesday amid resistance from President Donald Trump, whose administration is stonewalling the former vice president as the president pursues legal challenges to the election results.
Biden has been unable to receive intelligence reports because of the Trump administration's unwillingness to acknowledge his victory. On Tuesday, the Democratic president-elect called Trump's refusal to concede "an embarrassment" and said his transition was "well underway" despite the efforts to stymie his plans. Those include the General Service Administration head's refusal to recognize his incoming administration, which is delaying millions of dollars in transition funds and access to current government officials.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department's election crimes chief resigned in protest this week after Attorney General William Barr directed federal prosecutors to investigate "substantial allegations" of voter fraud before the presidential race results are certified — a change to Justice Department policy. And Senate Republicans got a victory in North Carolina's Senate race, raising the stakes in the two outstanding Georgia races, which appear likely to determine control of the chamber.
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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
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said it is likely that Biden is the next president and it's important for a transition process to begin.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said the president can pursue lawsuits but "need to have that contingency in place," referring to a Biden transition. Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said while the president is in court the transition should "move forward."
Sen. 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.
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.
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