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.
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Biden wins Arizona, NBC News projects
President-elect Joe Biden has won Arizona, NBC News projects
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
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
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.
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Obama says Trump's unfounded election fraud claims put country on a 'dangerous path'
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
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
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.
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