IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Nov. 13 highlights: Trump speaks, more press for Biden to get security briefings

The president and his administration continue to challenge the results.
Image: Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of red and blue ripples with white stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

It's been nearly a week since Joe Biden was projected to win the presidency and President Donald Trump has yet to concede.

While few Republican lawmakers have publicly congratulated Biden, some have begun to push the Trump administration to begin a key part of the transition process: giving Biden access to access to presidential-level intelligence briefings.

This live coverage has ended.

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

16 prosecutors tell Barr there's no evidence of election fraud

There is no evidence of voter fraud or other irregularities that could substantially impact the election, 16 federal prosecutors charged with investigating election crimes have said in a letter to Attorney General William Barr.

The assistant U.S. attorneys who are District Election Officers also urged Barr to rescind a controversial memo issued Monday that authorized prosecutors "to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections." That is a change from a Justice Department policy.

They wrote that the policy change "was not based in fact"; that in their jurisdictions there is no evidence of substantial allegations; and that their understanding is that a Justice Department section in charge of national oversight of election fraud hasn't seen any such evidence, either.

"The timing of the announcement inserts all of us into a partisan political debate," the assistant U.S. attorneys wrote. They said the policy change "has and will engender speculation that it was motivated by partisan political concerns." The head of the Justice Department's Election Crimes Branch has resigned that position to protest the Barr memo.

The letter from the assistant U.S. attorneys was reported earlier Friday by The Washington Post

Social-distancing concerns changes Capitol dinner tradition for incoming House members

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Haley Talbot

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Haley Talbot

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi abruptly cancelled a planned dinner for newly elected House members in Washington after being slammed on social media for being irresponsible and tone deaf. Instead the new members took away boxed meals.

It’s a tradition for leaders of each party to hold a respective dinner in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol for their new members in town for orientation and a tradition that was to continue even as the U.S is seeing record breaking new Covid-19 cases across the country, with another high of over 170,000 new cases on Friday

When asked if it was safe to hold the dinner, Pelosi told NBC News, “Yeah, it's very spaced.” Only four people were to sit at each table and an enhanced ventilation system was used to accommodate the function. T

he Capitol physician had been guiding the protocols, a Democratic aide said. "We have all the permission and the ventilation from the doctor. We’ll have ours and Republicans will have theirs,” Pelosi said.

But after a picture of the tables was posted to twitter by NBC News' Leigh Ann Caldwell, the dinner plans changed.

“To be a further model for the nation, this event has been modified to allow Members-elect to pick up their meals to go in a socially-distanced manner,” Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted. 

He followed up later to say the dinner had been called off and the new members would be given boxed meals to take away.

"Members-elect are now picking up their boxed meals and departing the Capitol," he tweeted. There is no group dinner."

It’s unclear if GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy will move forward as planned with the Republican dinner later this weekend. Requests for comment have gone unanswered. 

Incoming Rep. Cori Bush says Republicans mistook her for Breonna Taylor

Dartunorro Clark

Representative-elect Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat, said Friday that several of her Republican colleagues mistakenly called her Breonna Taylor due to a face mask she was wearing during the new House members orientation.

Bush said some of those Republican colleagues appeared to be unfamiliar with Taylor, whose killing by police during a botched drug raid in Kentucky sparked massive protests across the country this past summer.

"It’s Day One, so I’m wearing my 'Breonna Taylor' mask. A few of my Republican colleagues have called me Breonna, assuming that’s my name. It hurts. But I’m glad they’ll come to know her name & story because of my presence here. Breonna must be central to our work in Congress," Bush said in a tweet.

It also reflects a troubling trend seen in media reports and academic studies about people of color who are often misidentified in predominantly white workspaces. Sen. David Perdue created a controversy in October when he deliberately mispronounced the name of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during a Trump rally in Georgia.

Bush, who was also at one point homeless, ousted longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary this past August, ending an over half-century political dynasty. She cruised to election victory on Nov. 3, becoming the first Black Congresswoman in the history of Missouri.

Click here to the read the full story.

Biden to bring back daily press briefings

A senior Biden transition official confirms the president-elect plans to bring back the daily press briefing.

The news was first reported by Politico. As NBC News reported earlier this week, Kate Bedingfield and Symone Sanders are among those being considered for key jobs inside the communications team. Possible roles floated for them are press secretary and communications director.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announces he has tested positive for Covid-19

Dartunorro Clark

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, announced in a statement on Twitter on Friday that he has tested positive for Covid-19. 

"As part of a regular testing protocol, I underwent routine COVID-19 testing on Friday, November 13 in Carson City. A rapid test provided a positive result. I also received a diagnostic PCR test and those results are pending at this time," he said. 

Sisolak said he shared the results publicly to be transparent with residents in the state and said that he will be following local health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which recommend self-isolation and monitoring of symptoms. 

Sisolak, 66, said in the statement that he felt fatigued, which he initially attributed to a demanding work schedule. He said he did not experience any Covid-19 symptoms, has canceled all public events and will work with public health officials to do contact tracing while he works remotely. 

Trump's not giving up and neither are his supporters

EASTON, Pa. — With Donald Trump refusing to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, some of the president's supporters in one of Pennsylvania's tightest swing counties aren't willing to budge either.

"I voted for Trump, and I'm really upset," Pam Wagner, a 65-year-old voter from Easton in Northampton County, told NBC News, adding that she would like to see a complete re-vote of the 2020 election.

Yet while some of the president's supporters remain hopeful he can somehow pull out a victory, others are accepting what appears to be inevitable — Biden taking office in January.

The election is "kinda a sore subject around here," one man who declined give his name said with a chuckle as he stood in front of a local gun shop and near a pair of large flags that read "Trump 2020: No More Bulls---."

Wagner, meanwhile, said she wants to see the president continue to fight no matter what happens with his legal efforts aimed at overturning the election results in multiple states — efforts that so far have either fallen flat or do not look likely to affect many ballots cast, let alone change results in at least three states Trump is trailing in by more than 10,000 votes.

Click here to read the full story. 

Trump and GOP now 0-5 in Philadelphia lawsuits

In a series of related rulings out this evening, a judge from the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia has rejected five Trump/GOP lawsuits claiming irregularities with mail ballots.

Trump attacks N.Y. gov, says he'll withhold Covid vaccine from state until Cuomo approves

Natalia Abrahams

Dareh Gregorian and Natalia Abrahams

President Donald Trump threatened to withhold a coronavirus vaccine from New York state on Friday and escalated his feud with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his first public comments since Joe Biden was projected the winner in the presidential race.

Trump — snapping the longest stretch of silence in his presidency — began his remarks in the White House Rose Garden by touting the effectiveness of Operation Warp Speed, his administration's initiative to spur production of a vaccine, before taking aim at his home state.

"As soon as April the vaccine will be available to the entire general population, with the exception of places like New York State, where for political reasons the governor decided to say — and I don't think it's good politically, I think it's very bad from a health standpoint — but he wants to take his time on the vaccine," Trump said.

He was referring to comments Cuomo made in September, where he said he planned to have a panel of experts review a vaccine because he was concerned that Trump was trying to rush one out ahead of the presidential election.

"He doesn't trust where the vaccines coming from," Trump continued. "So the governor, Gov. Cuomo will have to let us know when he's ready for it, otherwise we, we can't we can't be delivering it to a state that won't be giving it to its people, immediately. And I know many I know the people in New York very well I know they want it. So the governor will let us know when he's ready," he added.

Click here to read the full story. 

Photos: As a new Congress prepares to sweep in, some are swept out.

Image: Items are packed inside the office of Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, who lost his seat in Congress on Nov. 13, 2020.
Items are packed inside the office of Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, who lost his seat in Congress earlier this year, on Friday.Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
Image: Newly-elected members of Congress attend a socially-distanced orientation on Capitol Hill on Nov. 13, 2020.
Newly-elected members of Congress attend a socially-distanced orientation on Capitol Hill on Friday.Chip Somodevilla / Pool via AP
A vacuum sits outside the vacated office of Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., at the Rayburn House Office Building on Friday.Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

As 'Q' fades, QAnon's Dominion voter fraud conspiracy theory reaches the president

Image: QAnon
A Qanon believer speaks to a crowd of President Donald Trump supporters outside of the Maricopa County Recorder's Office where votes in the general election are being counted, in Phoenix on Nov. 5, 2020.Dario Lopez-MIlls / AP file

For days after the election, adherents to the QAnon conspiracy movement had been trying to get President Donald Trump’s attention with constant false claims about voter fraud connected to a company that makes voting machines.

On Thursday, they celebrated. Trump tweeted in all-caps about a conspiracy theory that baselessly alleges that Dominion Voting Systems, a company that makes voting machines, “deleted” millions of Trump votes, citing a report on the far-right cable news outlet One America News Network.

While the theory has already been debunked — including by Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is tasked with national security related to the internet and technology — Trump's tweet offered a sliver of energy at a time when the QAnon movement had stalled, waiting for its leader, “Q,” to return with guidance from a hiatus that began on the morning of Election Day and lasted more than a week.

But QAnon is far from done. The movement's recent evolution and activity around the Dominion conspiracy theory highlight how even Joe Biden's election win and the disintegration of the broader QAnon narrative do not spell the end of the broader conspiracy ecosystem it has built.

Read the story.

Fact check: Trump claims credit for Pfizer vaccine effectivenes

“As a result of Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer announced on Monday that its China virus vaccine is more than 90 percent effective,” President Trump said Friday, using a derogatory term for the coronavirus as he sought to take credit for Pfizer's announcement that its vaccine was proving remarkably effective.

“In July my administration reached an agreement with Pfizer to provide $1.95 billion to support the mass manufacturing and distribution of 100 million doses with the option to purchase a total of 600 million doses shortly after,” Trump said during a Friday afternoon press conference at the White House promoting his administration's efforts to accelerate progress on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

“Pfizer said it wasn’t part of Warp Speed, but that turned out to be an unfortunate misrepresentation," Trump added.

Trump's account is misleading. Pfizer’s research and development is not taxpayer funded, though the U.S. government did strike a deal through Operation Warp Speed to buy 100 million doses of the vaccine if it proves effective.

Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, two other companies at work on a vaccine, have both received research and development money through the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

CIA Director Haspel not included in Trump's intelligence briefing Friday

President Trump's in-person daily intelligence briefing on Friday did not include CIA Director Gina Haspel, whose job has been on the line, according to several current and former officials familiar with the situation.

The meeting was organized by the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, the former Texas congressman and strong Trump partisan during the impeachment proceedings against the president.

Some Trump allies, including former acting DNI Richard Grenell, have been pushing for Haspel's ouster, according to current and former officials. She has also been criticized on Twitter by the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.  

In an email message, Grenell denied that he was pushing for Haspel's ouster. 

Haspel and National Security Agency head Gen. Paul Nakasone opposed the president’s often-stated desire to declassify more of the intelligence that undergirded the launch of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. They are known to believe declassifying the intelligence would dangerously expose critical sources and methods. 

Concern among Haspel’s supporters grew last week after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the administration installed several new Pentagon officials who had worked with or been closely allied to House Intelligence Committee raking member Devin Nunes, of California, a fierce Republican critic of the Russia investigation. A former White House official has also been appointed as general counsel at the NSA under Nakasone and would have great influence over the legal justification for any declassification. The president or Ratcliffe could release the documents without Ms. Haspel’s approval.

Justice Alito takes aim at gay marriage in 'politically charged speech'

Sydney Bauer

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticized same-sex marriage as a harbinger of the erosion of free speech in America, drawing renewed concern from LGBTQ advocates about the future of this recently gained right.

In a virtual address Thursday to the conservative Federalist Society, Alito took aim the landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that guaranteed gay marriage rights across the country, as well as restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus and talk of restructuring the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary more broadly.

“You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Until recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now, it's considered bigotry,” Alito said in his speech. “That this would happen after our decision in Obergefell should not have come as a surprise.”

Alito then cited his dissent in which he theorized that the majority’s opinion in the case would lead to those who “cling to traditional views on marriage” being “labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers and schools.” He then warned that freedom of speech is “falling out of favor in some circles” and at risk of becoming a “second-tier constitutional right.”

Paul Smith, a professor at Georgetown Law School, told NBC News that while Alito has spoken at Federalist Society events for years, his latest address was “aggressive in tone,” in contrast to past talks. That contrast, according to Smith, could be due to the event being streamed live, instead of behind closed doors as other Federalist Society events have been.

Read more here.

Trump campaign shuts down 'voter fraud' hotline after it's flooded with prank calls

The Trump campaign has closed down its “voter fraud” hotline after about a week in operation, a campaign official confirmed to NBC News.

The campaign is now directing people to an already-existing website to submit any claims.

A main reason for the switch? The phone line was being flooded with prank calls. The campaign had dedicated a conference room of staffers to the hotline effort in the days after the election.

Neither Trump nor the campaign has provided evidence of to back up their claims of voter fraud, which numerous election experts have said is not widespread.

Biden presses Trump for 'urgent action' against Covid-19 during months before inauguration

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday afternoon called on the Trump administration to take "urgent action" on combatting the Covid-19 pandemic, "starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is."

In a statement released just moments before Trump was scheduled to hold a Rose Garden press conference on "Operation Warp Speed," Biden said, "this crisis demands a robust and immediate federal response, which has been woefully lacking."

"I am the president-elect, but I will not be president until next year. The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar, it is accelerating right now. Urgent action is needed today, now, by the current administration — starting with an acknowledgment of how serious the current situation is," Biden added. 

Biden also reiterated his call "for every American, regardless of where they live or who they voted for, to step up and do their part on social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing to protect themselves and to protect others."

As of Friday, nearly 245,000 people in the U.S. had died of Covid-19, with more than 10.7 million confirmed cases in the U.S.

With final states called, Biden's projected Electoral College victory matches Trump's in 2016

President-elect Joe Biden is the apparent winner in Georgia and President Donald Trump has won North Carolina, NBC News projected Friday, bringing the presidential race to a close.

Those last two calls by NBC News — coming 10 days after polls closed on Election Night — were the final calls by the network in a tumultuous post-election stretch that included the tense four days it took for news outlets to call the race for Biden.

With 99 percent of the vote counted in Georgia, Biden had received 49.5 percent of the vote, while Trump had 49.2 percent. Biden’s margin in his apparent victory over Trump in the state was 14,152 votes, according to NBC News. His apparent win there is the first by a Democratic presidential candidate in the state since 1992. The outcome in Georgia, however, is subject to a planned recount of the state’s votes.

With 99 percent of the vote counted in North Carolina, Trump had 50 percent of the vote, while Biden had 48.6 percent. Trump’s margin of victory over Biden in the state was just over 73,600 votes.

Biden’s projected win in Georgia added 16 Electoral College votes to his tally, while Trump’s projected win in North Carolina added 15 Electoral College votes to his own. On Thursday, NBC News projected that Biden wins Arizona, a pickup of 11 Electoral College votes for Biden. As a result, Biden’s final projected Electoral College vote victory over Trump amounted to 306 to 232, according to NBC News.

Read the story.

Top CEOs met to plan response to Trump's election denial

The Associated Press

More than two dozen CEOs of major U.S. corporations took part in a video conference on Nov. 6 to discuss what to do if Trump refuses to leave office or takes other steps to stay in power.

During the conference, which lasted more than an hour, the CEOs agreed that while Trump had the right to pursue legal challenges alleging voter fraud, if he tries to undo the legal process or disrupts a peaceful transition, the CEOs discussed making public statements and pressuring GOP legislators, said Yale Management Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who convened the meeting.

Action could include threats to stop donations to political action committees or even corporate relocations, Sonnenfeld said.

The CEOs weren't worried about reprisals against their businesses but emphasized acting together. They referred to a Benjamin Franklin quote at the signing of the Declaration of Independence: “Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately,” according to Sonnenfeld.

YouTube says it wants 'discussion' of election results, even when it's been debunked

YouTube is facing growing criticism for allowing election misinformation after it decided not to remove or individually fact-check videos that spread unfounded conspiracy theories alleging voter fraud.

While all internet platforms are struggling to contain the volume of misinformation since voting ended last week — and all have been criticized to some degree by researchers for their handling of the situation — YouTube has staked out a position that is less aggressive than its social media competitors, most notably Facebook and Twitter.

YouTube said before the election that it wouldn’t allow videos that encourage “interference in the democratic process,” but now, as state officials are working to certify vote tallies, the company said it wants to give users room for “discussion of election results,” even when that discussion is based on debunked information.

Somewhere in between those two policies it has decided to leave up videos challenging Joe Biden’s election, and some have received millions of views.

Read the story.

Sen. McSally concedes to Democrat Mark Kelly in Arizona

Sen. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican, conceded Friday to Democrat Mark Kelly, one week after NBC News called the race for him.

McSally said in a statement that she has “trust God will lead me to my next mission to make a difference.” 

"With nearly all the votes counted, I called Mark Kelly this morning to congratulate him on winning this race,” McSally said. “I also offered support in his transition to ensure Arizonans are best served during this time. I wish him all the best."

McSally lost by 2.4 percentage points — the same margin as her defeat by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in 2018.

After that loss, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally, a former congresswoman and Air Force fighter pilot, to the Senate to replace Jon Kyl, who had returned to Washington temporarily after the death of his friend and former colleague, Sen. John McCain. 

Trump to make first public remarks in a week

President Donald Trump is scheduled to make public remarks on Friday afternoon, his first public comments since Joe Biden was projected the winner in the presidential race — snapping the longest stretch of silence in his presidency.

The Rose Garden appearance is his first comments since Nov. 5th and is slated to focus on Covid-19 vaccines. Trump initially had no public events scheduled, but the White House sent out an update in the early afternoon saying he'd make remarks about Operation Warp Speed in the Rose Garden at 4 p.m. ET.

Trump received an update Friday on the coronavirus vaccine development and delivery program. The virus that's already killed over 244,000 in the U.S. has surged across the country in recent weeks, with spikes in infections and hospitalizations from coast-to-coast.

Trump's failure to concede is already affecting his successor's plan to combat the virus by blocking his ability to communicate with government officials about their current efforts.

That has doctors close to Biden’s transition team working to develop their own plans to mass distribute a coronavirus vaccine, concerned that Trump administration planning will leave them underprepared when he leaves office.

Read more here.

Trump says he could 'stop by' the Million MAGA March on Saturday

Nicole Via y Rada

President Trump said Friday that he might attend an expected large gathering of supporters in Washington, D.C., dubbed the Million MAGA March, on Saturday.

Trump tweeted his thanks to supporters for "rallies springing up all over the Country, including a big one on Saturday in DC."

"I may even try to stop by and say hello," he continued. 

At the gathering, the president's supporters are expected to protest the election results, which NBC News and other news organizations called for Joe Biden last week. D.C. officials told NBC affiliates they expect street closures throughout the district. 

GOP Sen. David Perdue forced into runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia Senate race

Image: David Perdue and Jon Ossoff
David Perdue and Jon Ossoff.CQ Roll Call; Bloomberg / via Getty Images

Republican Sen. David Perdue has been forced into a runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff after neither captured 50 percent of the vote in their Georgia Senate race, NBC News projected Friday.

The development paves the way for a dramatic Jan. 5 election that will determine control of the U.S. Senate for the start of the new Biden administration — a race for which Ossoff and Perdue are preparing and raising money.

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler is facing Democrat Raphael Warnock for the state's other Senate seat on that same date, as neither cleared the 50 percent mark in their contest — giving Democrats a glimmer of hope that they could snare the two seats they need to claim control of the Senate and further Biden's agenda.

Ossoff said the races are critical to the country's future.

Read the story.

Republican candidates follow Trump's lead not to concede in their races

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON — While the country has largely focused on President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election to Joe Biden, it is also having a trickle-down effect in state and local races as defeated Republican candidates follow suit.

Trump's insistence that fraud affected the outcome of the election has fueled down-ballot defeated candidates to make the same claim and are similarly refusing to concede despite falling thousands of votes short.

The wave of refusals to concede comes as Trump continues to falsely claim that mass voter fraud fueld Joe Biden’s victory, which has been projected by news outlets since Saturday when the former vice president surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win.

To justify not conceding, Trump has been pointing to mail-in ballots — many of which were cast by Democrats because of the ongoing pandemic — which he incorrectly describes as illegal votes.

“Many Republican voters believe that there was fraud in this election,” said Nate Persily, a Stanford University law professor who specializes in election law, about their baseless claims. “It's not a surprise right now that losing candidates have now taken a page out of the Trump playbook since it seems to be working for him, at least among Republican voters.”

Read more here.

Judge rules against challengers in Detroit vote counting case

A Michigan state court judge Friday declined to block the certification of election results in Detroit, rejecting claims in a lawsuit filed by two poll challengers who said they saw several kinds of irregularities that allowed invalid ballots to be counted.

Timothy Kenny, the chief judge of Wayne County Circuit Court, said those making the claims "did not have a full understanding" of the vote counting process and their "interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible."

In their lawsuit, filed Nov. 8, the poll workers said they saw troubling conduct at the TCF Center, where Detroit ballots were processed and tabulated. They asked the judge to block certification of the results and order an independent audit. Their suit also said the judge should consider invalidating the results and ordering a new election.

Affidavits attached to the lawsuit from other election observers claimed that workers at the counting center backdated mail-in ballots, accepted ballots that arrived after the 8 p.m. deadline on election night, and failed to verify ballot envelope signatures. These were examples, the lawsuit said, of “fraud and misconduct.”

But city and county officials, in their response to the suit, said the complaints were based on “an extraordinary failure to understand how elections function.” They said ballots were not backdated and that none received after the deadline were counted.

Read more here.

Biden apparent victor in Georgia, Trump wins North Carolina, NBC News projects

NBC News

President-elect Joe Biden has won Georgia, picking up 16 Electoral College votes in winning the state, which hadn’t voted for a Democrat for president in almost 30 years. President Donald Trump picked North Carolina, which he won four years ago, for a gain of 15 electoral votes.

The win brings the final Electoral College tally to 306 votes for Biden and 232 votes for Trump. The outcome in Georgia, however, is subject to a planned recount of the state’s votes.

Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene challenges House mask rule with 'my body, my choice]

Nicole Via y Rada

Image: Marjorie Taylor Greene, Newly elected members of the U.S. Congress participate in an orientation on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Representative-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joins other for a chat during a congressional orientation on Capitol Hill on Nov. 13, 2020.Astrid Riecken / Pool via Reuters

Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., challenged the House mask rule during the first session of new member orientation.

Greene cited “my body, my choice,” a term previously used by the pro-choice movement regarding abortion. Throughout the summer, coronavirus protestors who opposed lockdowns and mask usage used the phrase to reject mask mandates. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the mask mandate in July, requiring all members and staffers to wear masks on the House floor. 

The freshman congresswoman said people in Georgia do not wear masks to shop, work out or go to restaurants. Georgia reported more than 413,000 Covid cases as of Thursday.

Greene, a Georgia businesswoman, has expressed support for the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon and been criticized for a series of racist comments.

Biden transition 'charging ahead' despite no GSA ascertainment letter

President-elect Joe Biden's transition team said Friday that it's “charging ahead” despite the fact that the General Services Administration hasn’t actually officially declared Biden the victor in the 2020 race — a process known as "ascertainment."

On a briefing call with reporters, transition spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that “engagement directly with the agencies” would “help our ability to govern,” especially on efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic. She added that there was “concern” that the transition doesn’t have access to items like threat assessments and intelligence briefings. 

More than six days after media outlets projected that Biden had defeated President Donald Trump to win the White House, GSA chief Emily Murphy still has yet to sign the letter of "ascertainment" — a previously mostly uncontroversial process since the passage of the transition act nearly 60 years ago.

Asked about the possibility of litigation to force the GSA end its hold-up, Psaki said Friday that “while no presidential transition would take any options off the table,” litigation is “certainly not our preference.”

Trump campaign gives up on Maricopa County, Arizona, lawsuit

Daniel Barnesis reporting from the federal courthouse.

Pete Williams and Daniel Barnes

Lawyers for the Trump campaign told a judge in Maricopa County, Arizona, on Friday that their lawsuit alleging that problems with the use of Sharpies caused some ballots to be wrongly rejected is moot. 

The lawyers suggested that number of ballots in question would not change the outcome in the state given Joe Biden's lead. 

“The tabulation of votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors,” they said.

NBC News has called Arizona for the president-elect, counting his lead there at more than 10,000 votes. 

Trump supporters demonstrate near White House

Natalia Abrahams

Lankford says Biden should receive presidential briefings, working with GSA

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., continued to voice support on Friday for President-elect Joe Biden to begin receiving presidential-level security briefings, warning of national security risks if the General Services Administration does not initiate the transition process. 

"One of the two is going to be president, and if you take politics out of this, national security trumps it," Lankford said on The Brian Kilmeade Show, still falling short of recognizing Biden as the winner of the election.

Lankford also said he’s working with the GSA, but emphasized, "I can’t force them to make this decision."

"But I do want to know how it’s going to be done, because this is an issue that we have faced as a nation before and said we made a mistake on it," he continued. "I want to make sure we don’t make that mistake again."

Lankford was referring to the 2000 election, when it took weeks for both George W. Bush and Al Gore to receive briefings. 

The 9/11 Commission found that the lengthy transition period contributed to the country's vulnerability leading up to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Cindy McCain on why Biden won Arizona: 'People were looking for something else'

Cindy McCain told NBC News that Joe Biden's defeat of Donald Trump in traditionally conservative Arizona shows that "people were looking for something else" from a president.

“They were looking for civility, they were looking for empathy, compassion, a leader that would listen to them and care about them, and care about the issues that were important,” McCain told NBC's Vaughn Hillyard after the network projected Thursday that Biden had flipped the state blue.

The wife of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was the Republican nominee for president in 2008, said she feels Republicans have lost their way in recent years. 

“I think our party, although I don’t think any of our party is misguided or bad — don’t ever suggest that, because I don’t — I do believe that perhaps, in some ways, we’ve lost our way. And we’ve lost our way in that we’re not always putting country first, and instead, perhaps parties, is the issue at hand. And that certainly is the case with the president, right now,” said McCain, who endorsed Biden in September. 

She said she hoped her endorsement made “a difference” in the state, where her late husband is still enormously popular. “I hope, if nothing more, I encouraged women, especially Republican women, to step outside their comfort zone and vote for a Democrat for the reasons that I just specified. I hope that’s what happened,” McCain said. 


Pelosi stresses Covid-19 relief as U.S. faces 'an emergency of the highest magnitude'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that her focus during the lame-duck session of Congress is on passing a Covid-19 relief package, especially with the pandemic worsening. 

The surging case and death toll numbers are "an emergency of the highest magnitude," she said at a news conference, describing it as a "red alert" situation. Thursday's record number of 160,000 new cases was “horrifying,” especially after a week straight of more than 100,000 infections a day, she said. 

“Republicans in Congress continue their tactics of delay, distort and deny, which has led to deaths," Pelosi said. "The longer the Republicans keep up the charade, the further out of control the Covid crisis will spiral."

Asked about Democrats losing seats in the House, Pelosi said, "We had a very deep victory two years ago. I don't think that people are quite understanding of the 40 seats that we won, 31 were in Trump districts. We saved most of those seats, so we're very proud of that."

Pelosi emphasized that Joe Biden is the president-elect and was elected with what she said was a mandate. She also suggested Democrats will have the he upper hand, even in a divided Congress, because Biden will be in charge of the executive branch. 

"When your president is the president of your party, the leverage in your power is greatly increased," she told reporters. "You must know that." 

After California restores felon voting rights, activists see growing national trend

Natalia Abrahams

WASHINGTON — California voters delivered the state's convicted felons a win on Election Day: the ability to join them the next time the state votes.

A national movement continues across the country to let felons — many who have completed their sentences and ended their parole — return to the voting booth.

For Earlonne Woods, co-host of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated podcast Ear Hustle and an advocate for ex-felons who are working to return to life after incarceration, the ability to vote after leaving prison was an important step to reconnecting to society.

“I was first incarcerated at 9 years old,” Woods told NBC News. After 21 years in prison, Woods was granted clemency by California’s governor. His parole ended on September 23rd, 2020 and that night he registered to vote.

According to the advocacy organization, The Sentencing Project, as of 2016, there are 6.1 million Americans who are convicted felons barred from voting due to state laws. About 75 percent of those are no longer incarcerated and half have already completed their parole.

Read more here.

NBC News

Navarro says White House assumes 2nd Trump term coming, calls election 'immaculate deception'

Nicole Via y Rada

Top Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox Business on Friday that the White House is moving forward "under the assumption that there will be a second Trump term" as the president's campaign continues to press election challenges. 

"My own view, looking at this election, we have what appears in some sense to be, an immaculate deception," Navarro added.

Noting the post-Election Day gains for Joe Biden in the vote counts in some battleground states, Navarro said, "So I think what's important here is that this is a country of laws and rules, we have a very clear set of election laws, and what we need to do is go through the process, as we did with Gore — Bush v. Gore."

"So until we do that ... our assumption is the second Trump term," he continued. "We think he won that election, and any speculation about what Joe Biden might do I think is is moot at this  point."

NBC News projected Biden's win on Saturday along with other news networks. Biden now has 290 electoral votes to Trump's 217. The president has yet to concede the election, however, and is pushing unfounded claims of voter fraud. But 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, calling the election "the most secure in American history."

Obama calls Republicans embracing Trump's unfounded fraud claims 'disappointing'

Former President Barack Obama said Republican lawmakers who are supporting President Donald Trump's unfounded claims of massive voter fraud are "disappointing."

In a preview of an interview he taped for “CBS Sunday Morning” that was released on Friday, Obama said of the Republicans "They obviously didn't think there was any fraud going on because they didn't say anything about it for it the first two days" after the election.

Obama didn't name names, but among Republicans who were projected to win re-election themselves shortly after polls closed and haven't rejected Trump's claims are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, while Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California have actively promoted the president's claims. 

Obama said "there's damage to this because what happens is that the peaceful transfer of power, the notion that any of us who attain an elected office, whether it's dog catcher or a president, are servants of the people. It's a temporary job. We're not above the rules. We're not above the law. That's the essence of our democracy."

Obama also recounted staying up until 2:30 a.m. in 2016 to congratulate Trump after TV networks projected he'd won, and  "His margin of victory over Hillary Clinton wasn't greater than Joe Biden's margin over him. But  if you're listening to some of the talk radio that Trump voters are listening to, if you're watching Fox News, if you're getting these tweets, those allegations are presented as facts. So you've got millions of people out there who think, ‘Oh, yeah, there must  be cheating because the president said so.’”

He recalled John McCain's concession call to him in 2008, and being welcomed at the White House by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. “Could not have been more gracious,” he said.

Left out of Covid-19 vaccine planning, Biden advisers developing their own distribution strategy

Geoff Bennett

Shannon Pettypiece and Geoff Bennett

Doctors close to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team are working to develop their own plans to mass distribute a coronavirus vaccine, concerned that Trump administration planning will leave them underprepared when he leaves office.

President Donald Trump's ongoing refusal to concede and his administration's unwillingness to acknowledge Biden means that those working to develop the vaccine distribution plan cannot start to share the plans with those who will take over in January.

"We're in a Covid crisis," said Ron Klain, Biden's incoming chief of staff in an interview with MSNBC Thursday. "Right now, there are officials inside the department of Health and Human Services who are busy planning a vaccination campaign for the months of February and March when Joe Biden will be president so the sooner we can get our transition experts into meetings with the folks who are planning the vaccination campaign, the more seamless the transition."

The physicians working with Biden's team have been in contact with CVS and Walgreens, which they see as key distribution points for the general public, and have been tracking whether the retail pharmacies will have the staffing and supplies needed to vaccinate millions of Americans, said one person close to the transition. The Biden team has also been in contact for months with Pfizer as it tries to sort out the sub-zero storage requirements for the company’s vaccine, a transition official said.

Read the story.

EXPLAINER: Is Georgia’s upcoming ballot ‘audit’ a recount?

The Associated Press

Georgia says it’s going to be tallying — by hand — nearly 5 million ballots that were cast in its very close presidential election on Nov. 3. But is it a recount? An “audit”? And why are they doing it?

It’s all a bit confusing, but election experts say what’s happening in Georgia is unlikely to change the outcome and are warning that discrepancies in the final vote count are likely. That doesn’t mean anything nefarious happened. Experts say some discrepancies are expected when so many votes are counted a second time using an entirely different method — hand versus machine.

While President Donald Trump has been making unsubstantiated claims of fraud as he challenges the election’s outcome, Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has defended the work of election officials in the state and said the review was unlikely to change the outcome. Unofficial results show Democrat Joe Biden leading Trump by about 14,000 votes.

Read the story.

Trust America again? Climate leaders hopeful for Biden to put U.S. back on track

Image: People march from the U.S. Capitol to the White House for the People's Climate Movement to protest President Donald Trump's environmental policies
People march from the U.S. Capitol to the White House for the People's Climate Movement to protest President Donald Trump's environmental policies, April 29, 2017 in Washington.Astrid Riecken / Getty Images file

As congratulatory messages for President-elect Joe Biden poured in from around the world Saturday, an overarching theme began to emerge: climate change.

From Canada to New Zealand, world leaders raised hopes that Biden would reinvigorate efforts to fight global warming after the United States' four-year absence under President Donald Trump.

But the messages come with some trepidation. Persuading the world to trust America again when it comes to its international commitments will be a challenge in light of Trump's legacy of withdrawals from multilateral treaties and organizations.

"The U.S.'s political inconsistency on this issue will have been demonstrated and will take years to repair in terms of trust on the international stage," said Cara Horowitz, co-executive director at the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA.

Experts say there are some immediate moves they hope to see.

Read the story.

FIRST READ: Trump spends post-election week spreading misinformation and chaos as virus rages on


Mark Murray

Carrie Dann

Melissa Holzberg

Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg

The past week after news organizations like NBC News projected Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election has epitomized the last four years of the Trump presidency.

You have a president who’s been unable to admit he lost. (NBC News last night called Arizona for Biden, which brings his electoral vote total to 290. With Biden still ahead in Georgia, a win there would increase that to 306.)

You have his administration officials still carrying out his orders. (GSA Administrator Emily Murphy has yet to recognize Biden’s victory, preventing immediate funding for his transition.)

You have most of the Republican Party — though not all of it — either supporting Trump’s claims or trying to stay silent. (Yet more and more cracks within the GOP are beginning to emerge.)

You have plenty of chaos. You have lots of misinformation. You have little to no president-ing going on. And most important of all, it’s coming during the worst spike yet in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations since the virus arrived in the country.

Get First Read.

Democrats gear up to fight gerrymandering after state House losses

Democrats may have won the presidency, but they failed to fulfill one of their biggest hopes of this election cycle: taking control of state legislatures and the power to draw electoral districts.

Now, organizers and party officials said, they will be forced to bank on litigation, friendly state courts, Democratic governors, recent state reforms and a growing grassroots movement to hold the line against their fears of Republican gerrymandering — embedding a political advantage in the drawing of electoral maps.

"Let's have fair maps. Let's have an actual battle of ideas," said Patrick Rodenbush, communications director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. "Republicans are afraid of the voters they say they want to represent, and they are cheating the American people out of representation by doing this."

After each census is completed, state legislatures take up the responsibility of drawing the maps for congressional and legislative districts. Republicans took control of the majority of state Houses after the 2010 census, and they were able to maintain much of that dominance this year.

Republicans said they plan to try to cement their power in the drawing of 30 state maps. Democrats control 19 legislatures.

Read the story.

Is the outcome of the election really in doubt?

More than a week after Election Day, incumbent President Donald Trump is still promising his supporters a win and Republican lawyers are still pursuing claims of election improprieties in half a dozen states. But is the result of the election really in doubt?

Conversations with more than a dozen state election chiefs around the country and with election lawyers and experts indicate that recounts will likely not move states like Wisconsin and Georgia into Trump's column. Nor do they think that legal challenges — even if some succeed — will undo former Vice President Joe Biden's projected Electoral College victory.

Despite the number of lawsuits filed and the public rhetoric that has accompanied them, experts say, few have the evidentiary backing to survive in court. The state election officials, Republican and Democrat alike, told NBC News there is no evidence of fraud backing up Trump's claims in their states.

"Any amount of scrutiny is going to reveal this, that the process actually worked extraordinarily well," said Jocelyn Benson, Michigan's Democratic secretary of state, who points out that Biden is leading in Michigan by nearly 150,000 votes.

Read the story.

Beloved businesses are going bankrupt waiting for federal help. It will get worse

Benjy Sarlin

Stephanie Ruhle

Benjy Sarlin and Stephanie Ruhle

Last Friday, as Americans waited to learn who their next president would be, Debbe Andrews-Lewis of Lincoln, Nebraska, knew her life was about to change either way. At the end of the day, she would lose her boutique, The Funky Sister.

She had built it from scratch to honor her late husband's memory — they had always wanted to run a store together in retirement. She found quick success selling antiques and oddball items, which allowed her to expand the business and hire her daughter, who took her young son to work every day.

But then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, shuttering the store for two months last spring. When Andrews-Lewis reopened, a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program — part of the emergency relief bill passed by Congress in March and signed into law by President Donald Trump — covered only a brief stretch of her daughter's salary. She hoped for more help from Washington, but it never came. And with street traffic way down, more residents buying online and little sign of improvement on the horizon, it was no longer tenable to continue.

"When I looked at the lease, I just couldn't justify allotting another $100,000 for rent and utilities for three years," she said.

The election may be over, but the White House and Capitol Hill are no closer to terms on a new Covid-19 relief plan. And even if a deal is reached, it's far too late to help save as many as 100,000 small businesses that have been forced to close while waiting for more help, like The Funky Sister. Neighborhood shops around the country are in mortal danger every day Washington fails to act.

Read the story.

Mark Zuckerberg tells Facebook employees Biden will be next president

Salvador Rodriguez, CNBC

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged to employees on Thursday that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States, a spokesman for the company confirmed to CNBC.

"I believe the outcome of the election is now clear and Joe Biden is going to be our next president," Zuckerberg said at a companywide meeting, according to BuzzFeed News.

"It’s important that people have confidence that the election was fundamentally fair, and that goes for the tens of millions of people that voted for Trump."

Zuckerberg's comments are his first recognizing the incoming Biden administration, even as President Donald Trump has claimed, without presenting any evidence, that there was widespread voting fraud.

Read the story.

Biden's talking to Republican officials, top aide Klain says

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, said Thursday that President-elect Joe Biden has spoken to Republicans since he won the presidential race.

"Joe Biden has spoken to Republicans. He's spoken to some Republican senators, some Republican governors. I'm not going to go into the names," Klain said in an interview on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell."

Asked if GOP senators have called Biden or if the president-elect called them, Klain said it’s been a mix of both.

Klain, a longtime adviser to Biden who was announced as the next chief of staff on Wednesday, said that the president-elect has not yet spoken to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and suggested part of the reason why is that the GOP leader has thrown his support behind President Donald Trump's efforts to contest the election results.

Read the story.

With Trump defeated, Georgia Democrats aim to keep voters fired up for Senate control

Image: Jon Ossoff, Raphael G Warnock
Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff, right, and Raphael G. Warnock, left, arrive at a "Get Out the Vote" event in Jonesboro, Ga., on Oct. 27, 2020.Brynn Anderson / AP

ATLANTA — Democrats know this year's election was as much about President Donald Trump as anything else, but without him on the ballot, they are working to find other ways to keep voters engaged.

In Georgia, party officials, labor leaders and progressive activists are mounting an aggressive campaign to keep their base mobilized and register new voters ahead of a Dec. 7 deadline before voters here return to the ballot box on Jan. 5.

This historically conservative state could host two runoffs for Senate seats on Jan. 5. Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler will face Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock. The race between David Perdue, the other Republican incumbent, and Democrat Jon Ossoff remains too close to call, but if Perdue stays under the 50 percent mark, that race will also head to a runoff.

Democrats are doing what they can to stoke enthusiasm.

Read the story.

Trump discussing 2024 campaign announcement, if election certified for Biden

Trump has told some advisers that if the election is officially certified for Biden, which is expected, he will announce a 2024 White House bid shortly afterward, a person familiar with the discussions confirmed to NBC News.

The New York Times first reported the news. 

It's not clear, however, which exact date Trump is referring to when he said "certified."

In another story, The Times reported that governors "must send Congress a 'certificate of ascertainment' with their states' certified vote totals and the names of their electors before Dec. 14, when the Electoral College will convene." Election results that are certified by Dec. 8, the report said, are largely protected from challenges.

China congratulates President-elect Joe Biden on White House win — eventually


Dawn Liu

Janis Mackey Frayer

Adela Suliman, Dawn Liu and Janis Mackey Frayer

China extended its first congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden on Friday, issuing a terse statement that contrasted with a fulsome and swift message from the country's leader after President Donald Trump won four years ago.

"We respect the choice of the American people and we extend our congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris," said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, during a daily press briefing reported in state media.

China was one of the last major countries to officially acknowledge that Biden became president-elect on Saturday.

While Biden now counts with 290 electoral votes compared to Trump's 217, the president has yet to concede the election, baselessly claiming that voter fraud occurred.

"We understand the result of the U.S. election will be determined in accordance with U.S. laws and procedures," Wang said.

President Xi Jinping congratulated Trump on Nov. 9, 2016 — within a day of Trump being declared the winner.

Read the full story here. 

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

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 presidential 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 by NBC News as "too close to call" and a hand recount is being conducted in Georgia. 

GOP senators, former security officials push for Biden to receive intelligence briefings

Nicole Via y Rada

Nicole Via y Rada and Lauren Egan

Senate Republicans and former national security officials on Thursday increased pressure on the General Services Administration to grant President-elect Joe 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 Donald Trump has been defeated, but acknowledged a need for Biden to begin to get critical information about the nation's security.

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," says the letter, obtained by NBC News.

Read more here.