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Nov. 11 highlights: Presidential transition stonewalled by Trump administration

The president-elect called Donald Trump's failure to concede the election "an embarrassment" as he readies to tackle Covid and health care.
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 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.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from Nov. 12, 2020.

Trump wins Alaska, NBC News projects

President Donald Trump has won Alaska, NBC News projects, leading Joe Biden with 57 percent of the vote and 75 percent of the total vote reported.

The victory means Biden now leads Trump in the Electoral College 279 to 217 — already past the level to have won the presidency.

NBC News has yet to make calls in the presidential race in Georgia, Arizona and North Carolina. Biden is leading in Georgia and Arizona while Trump is up in North Carolina. NBC News deems each race still too close to call.

GOP incumbent Dan Sullivan defeats Democrat Al Gross in Alaska Senate race, NBC projects

GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan has been re-elected to his seat in Alaska, defeating Democratic challenger Al Gross, NBC News projects. 

With 75 percent of the vote in, Sullivan received more than 57 percent of the vote and leads Gross by more than 52,000 votes. 

NYC man arrested for threatening to kill Sen. Schumer, protesters, prosecutors say

Authorities arrested a man in New York after he threatened to kill “anyone that claims to be a democrat” and “blow up” the FBI on social media, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, including FBI agents and New York Police Department officers, arrested Brian Maiorana, 54, early Tuesday at his home on Staten Island.

Maiorana was charged in a federal complaint with threatening to kill and ordering others to kill protesters, law enforcement members and elected officials, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), according to papers filed in the Eastern District of New York. A judge in a Brooklyn federal court ordered his detainment pending a bail hearing, prosecutors said.

His attorney, James Darrow, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Family members of Maiorana could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday

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Trade, Covid-19, climate change and more: Host of global issues awaits Biden

The congratulatory tweets from world leaders are still trickling in, but already a host of urgent international issues are begging for the attention of President-elect Joe Biden and his team.

But with domestic crises including the coronavirus pandemic, an economic recession and a national reckoning with racism on Biden’s home blotter, the new president may have to initially set aside any bold international initiatives, said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

“More than ever before, domestic priorities are going to squeeze out any foreign policy agenda in the first six months at least,” Glaser said.

That means Biden will need to set strict priorities on the global concerns he addresses, said Peter Trubowitz, director of the U.S. Center at the London School of Economics.

With that in mind, here’s where Biden will likely land on major issues and challenges facing the United States globally.

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Trump's border wall endangered ecosystems and sacred sites. Could it come down under Biden?

In March, after construction crews blasted and bulldozed through the remote desert terrain of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an ecological reserve on the Arizona-Mexico border, Christina Andrews observed the transformation in disbelief.

Dozens of miles of towering border wall ordered by the Trump administration were rising across the rugged landscape in southern Arizona, displacing century-old cacti and cutting off migratory paths for jaguars and wolves. Ancestral lands and sites considered sacred by local Native Americans were also threatened after the administration declined to consult tribal groups as normally required under federal law.

"It felt like someone took a dagger and drove it through my heart," said Andrews, a chairwoman of the Hia-Ced O'odham, or Sand People, a community living near the national monument that is seeking tribal recognition from the federal government.

But with Democrat Joe Biden's projected win over President Donald Trump, Andrews and environmental activists and conservationists are pinning their hopes on a new administration's reversing certain policies, halting construction and going as far as to rip down the new sections of border wall.

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Biden's key immigration policies face uphill battle

President-elect Joe Biden, joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks at The Queen theater, on Nov. 10, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.Carolyn Kaster / AP

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.

Among Biden's top priorities: Reuniting separated migrant families, ending the "Remain in Mexico" policy for asylum seekers, reinstating and expanding some protections for "Dreamers," and increasing the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. annually.

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Credited with boosting Democrats in Georgia, Stacey Abrams looks to January

Stacey Abrams, former candidate for Georgia governor, speaks at campaign event for Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democratic candidate for Georgia senate, near Coan Park in Atlanta on Nov. 3, 2020.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Stacey Abrams isn't slowing down.

Soon after it became clear Friday that Georgia, once a reliable Republican stronghold, wouldn't easily bend toward victory for President Donald Trump, Abrams, the voting rights activist and former candidate for governor, took to social media.

First, she recognized the achievement, thanking elated voters and activists in a video posted to her social media accounts for their efforts over the years to create "this new Georgia." Then, she turned their attention elsewhere: to the state's two potential Senate runoff races.

"We have seen what is possible when we work hard and when we work together," Abrams said in the video statement. "We know we can win Georgia. Now let's get it done, again."

That laser focus on turning out voters and protecting their votes has come to define Abrams, who is being widely applauded for her work in transforming Georgia into a battleground.

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1st woman of color elected to Vermont Senate wants to uplift others

"So many times in my life, I felt the impact of policies that didn't let people like me fall through the cracks, and it started to paint a picture for me of what I could do to help other people in politics," Kesha Ram said.Courtesy Kesha Ram

Democrat Kesha Ram made history last week when she became the first woman of color to be elected to the Vermont Senate in a state that’s more than 94 percent white.

Ram, the daughter of an Indian immigrant father and a Jewish mother, said her parents’ experiences deeply influence the way she thinks government can affect people’s lives.

“It's generally a story about the American dream and the immigrant experience but it had undertones that really formed my thinking about policy,” said Ram, 34.

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Biden will have a long list of economic fixes to make: Experts say these are the top 3

Economists say these are the week-one, day-one challenges President-elect Joe Biden will face as soon as he is sworn in — and how he might be able to meet them.

Corral the coronavirus: Biden's administration will need to invest in people, equipment and technology to improve the availability and accuracy of testing, production and dissemination of PPE and development of virus-mitigation and contract tracing protocols — all goals endorsed by public health officials. 

Stimulus: Economists are divided on whether or not — and when — another tranche of aid might be forthcoming. Most analysts, along with top officials like Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, do agree that additional stimulus is needed. The progress announced by Pfizer on Monday towards a Covid-19 vaccine was promising, some said, but did not negate the need for lawmakers to act in the near term.

Jobs: A growing number of job losses are shifting from temporary to permanent, an ominous change labor economists say will get worse between now and the inauguration. Biden’s transition website calls for establishing a 100,000-person job corps to combat the coronavirus.

In addition, Biden will likely implement a flurry of executive orders, with many targeted at undoing policies President Donald Trump had unilaterally imposed the same way, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“Biden’s going to reverse Trump on trade, on immigration, on climate change, on banking regulations," he said. “It’s not big, fundamental shifts… it’s more incremental.”