Election 2020 live updates: In reversal, canvassers in Michigan county certify election

Election 2020 live updates: In reversal, canvassers in Michigan county certify election


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USA TODAY’S coverage of the 2020 election continues this week as states prepare to finish certifying their vote counts after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the hard-fought presidential race. President Donald Trump has yet to concede the race as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris meet with transition advisers and prepare to take office in January.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.

In Michigan, Wayne County canvassers reverse course, vote to certify election results

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan unanimously voted to certify the county’s November election results late Tuesday night after an earlier unprecedented 2-2 deadlock along partisan lines.

The board also passed a resolution calling on Michigan’s secretary of state to conduct an independent comprehensive audit of all of the jurisdictions in Wayne County that recorded unexplained discrepancies between the number of absentee ballots recorded as cast and the number of absentee ballots counted.

All four members of the board unanimously supported the certification of the August primary election, which also saw unexplained discrepancies.

Earlier Tuesday, the two Republican members of the board voted against certifying the results.

After initially voting against certifying the election results, Monica Palmer, the Republican chair of the committee, said she would be open to certifying the election results for some jurisdictions but not Detroit and others that recorded unexplained discrepancies.

But Chris Thomas, the former director of elections for Michigan who served as a special adviser to Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, responded, “I think that’s absurd. I think that would make a mockery of the situation. To open the door to selective canvassing would be a huge disservice to the election process.”

Public commenters who spoke during the meeting accused the board’s Republican members of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters – particularly African American voters – in initially refusing to certify the election.

Tuesday was the final day the board could certify the county’s election results. The unanimous vote to certify the results comes just in time for the board to meet Michigan’s deadline.

Read the full story.

– Detroit Free Press

Colorado congressman Perlmutter tests positive for coronavirus

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-CO, announced on Tuesday evening that he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“As of now, I am asymptomatic and I’m feeling good,” Perlmutter said in a written statement. “I am currently in Washington, D.C. and plan to isolate in my apartment while continuing to work and voting remotely.”

Perlmutter’s infection makes him the 24th member of the U.S. House of Representatives to test positive for the coronavirus. Several senators and members of the House have tested positive in the last week, indicating an increased rate of spread in the halls of Congress. 

Perlmutter was last seen on Capitol Hill yesterday, according to C-SPAN. 

“I’ve been taking precautions like so many Coloradans over the past eight months. … As we enter the holiday season, I encourage everyone to continue to heed the warnings of no personal gatherings, social distancing, and wearing a mask,” Perlmutter’s statement reads.

– Matthew Brown

Trump and first lady to celebrate Thanksgiving at White House

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will celebrate Thanksgiving at the White House this year, their first time celebrating the holiday in Washington, D.C. Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokesperson, tweeted the family’s plans in a “Holiday Scheduling Update” on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

In 2019, Trump paid a surprise visit to American troops in Afghanistan, where he appeared at a Thanksgiving dinner. In the first two years of his term, Trump spent the holiday at the Trump Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump has made few public appearances since the Nov. 3 presidential election, holding one press briefing in recent days focused on the coronavirus pandemic and another shortly after Election Day during which he blamed his loss on unfounded claims of widespread. 

It is unclear how large or public the Thanksgiving celebration at the White House will be this year.

It is not unusual for presidents to celebrate Thanksgiving at the White House. Presidential traditions associated with the holiday include the annual turkey pardoning and preparing Thanksgiving meals for the homeless.

– Matthew Brown

Trump ousts DHS cyber chief who called election secure

The Department of Homeland Security’s cyber chief, who presided over an elaborate election security effort guarding against foreign interference and fraud, was ousted by President Donald Trump on Tuesday as part of a continuing post-election purge of top national security officials.

Trump announced the dismissal in a tweet Tuesday night.

The dismissal of Christopher Krebs, director of DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, follows the agency’s declaration that the general election was the most secure in U.S. history.

The statement served as a pointed rebuke to a president who continues to make unsubstantiated allegations of voting fraud while Trump’s legal team pursues multiple legal challenges in battleground states.

The former director acknowledged Trump’s action in a brief tweet Tuesday: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow.”

Read the full story.

– Kevin Johnson and David Jackson

Republican canvassers vote against certifying election results in Michigan county

The two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted Tuesday against certifying the November election results for the county’s 43 jurisdictions, including Detroit, Michigan’s largest voting jurisdiction.

Monica Palmer, the Republican chair of the committee said: “I believe that we do not have complete and accurate information on those poll books,” referring to jurisdictions that recorded unexplained discrepancies between the number of absentee ballots recorded as cast and the number of absentee ballots counted. Jonathan Kinloch, the Democratic vice chair of the board, said: “Most of this is human error. … It’s not based on fraud.”

The board is comprised of four members, two Democrats and two Republicans.

– Detroit Free Press

Sen. Chuck Grassley tests positive for coronavirus

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the oldest Republican currently serving in the Senate, has tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve tested positive for coronavirus. I’ll b following my doctors’ orders/CDC guidelines & continue to quarantine. I’m feeling good + will keep up on my work for the ppl of Iowa from home. I appreciate everyone’s well wishes + prayers &look fwd to resuming my normal schedule soon,” Grassley wrote on Twitter.

The 87-year-old announced Tuesday morning that he was in quarantine while awaiting a test result after learning he’d been exposed to the virus. That test came back positive.

Read the full story.

– Des Moines Register

Republican colleagues congratulate Kamala Harris on Senate floor

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was greeted by her Republican Senate colleagues with well wishes and compliments on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon. The good tidings came as the Senate blocked President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board.

Republican Sens. James Lankford, Mike Rounds, Tim Scott and Ben Sasse were all seen greeting and congratulating Harris on her and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham even gave Harris a fist bump.

“How is the food fight behind you in California?” Lankford asked Harris, according to CNN. The comment  an apparent reference to the brewing fight among California Democrats to fill her soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.

Control of the upper chamber will be determined by two Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5. If Democrats win both races, the Senate will have a 50-50 split of both parties, with Harris as the tiebreaker.

Such a scenario would mean that Harris would remain deeply involved in the Senate despite moving on from Congress. Harris is expected to be an especially influential voice in the White House regardless, as Biden said during the VP search he wanted a partner in the role he could trust.

Harris was elected as California’s junior senator in 2016 after serving as the state’s attorney general. She quickly gained a reputation on Capitol Hill as an incisive cross-examiner during Senate hearings. Her rhetorical skills made her a progressive icon in the Trump era, which propelled her to a presidential campaign and, soon, the vice presidency.

– Matthew Brown

Biden meets with national security experts

President-elect Joe Biden met virtually Tuesday with defense, intelligence and foreign affairs advisers as part of his preparation for taking office Jan. 20 in the absence of formal national security briefings that are traditionally provided.

President Donald Trump continues to challenge the results of the election in federal court, so the General Services Administration hasn’t initiated a formal transition for Biden. But the former vice president and 36-year senator from Delaware assembled his own group of outside experts and former government aides for an online meeting at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware.

The meeting came the same day the Trump administration announced further U.S. troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Biden, who said he’s spoken to 13 heads of state, said he planned a foreign policy reflecting the country’s values and needs. He asked the experts to brief him on the biggest challenges facing the country and how to make sure diplomacy and the military meet those challenges.

“I just wanted to get your input on what you see ahead,” Biden said. “To state the obvious, there’s no presidential responsibility more important than protecting the American people, so I appreciate you taking your time and I am anxious to hear what you all have to say.”

Participants in Biden’s meeting included retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin of central command that oversees Iraq and Afghanistan; retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who led troops in Afghanistan; retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, who headed the special operations command; Tony Blinken, a former deputy secretary of State and deputy national security adviser; Avril Haines, former deputy national security adviser; Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of State; and Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Several of those officials are reportedly under consideration for similar posts in Biden’s administration.

– Bart Jansen

Biden speaks to Netanyahu, offers ‘deep commitment’ to Israel

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, continuing his series of congratulatory phone calls with world leaders after winning the election this month.

Biden also spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera, bringing Biden’s post-election conversations with foreign nations to 13.

Netanyahu’s office described the talk as “a warm conversation” and said “the President-elect reiterated his deep commitment to the State of Israel and its security.”

Netanyahu told Biden “the special bond between Israel and the US is a fundamental component of Israel’s security and its policy,” the prime minister’s office said in a tweet. “The two agreed to meet soon in order to discuss the many issues on the agenda and reiterated the need to continue bolstering the steadfast alliance between the US and Israel.”

Netanyahu, a strong ally of President Donald Trump, first congratulated Biden in a video posted on Twitter Nov. 8, one day after Biden crossed 270 electoral votes to secure the presidency. But Netanyahu had refrained from calling Biden the “president-elect” until Tuesday. 

“The president-elect thanked the prime minister for his congratulations and reiterated his steadfast support for Israel’s security and its future as a Jewish and democratic state,” according to a readout of the phone call from Biden’s transition team.

Trump forged a strong relationship with Netanyahu in part by embracing controversial pro-Israel policies, such as recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a disputed territory the United Nations considers “occupied” by Israel. But their rapport often seemed based less on good chemistry than good politics – for both men – as they each faced their respective re-election battles.

Trump-Netanyahu:How two leaders reap political rewards from their cozy relationship

In Biden, Netanyahu has an old and trusted friend – someone who will be more predictable on foreign affairs, even if he is less tolerant of Netanyahu’s hardline policies. Biden also spoke to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Modi tweeted that he congratulated Biden, reiterated “our firm commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership” and discussed “our shared priorities and concerns” such as addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region.

He said he also congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who is set to become the first woman, first African American and first Indian-American vice president.

“Her success is a matter of great pride and inspiration for members of the vibrant Indian-American community, who are a tremendous source of strength for Indo-US relations,” he wrote.

Biden last week kicked off the tradition of speaking to world leaders following his election win with western allies – Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France and Italy – and later Japan, South Korea and Australia. He also spoke to Pope Francis.

– Joey Garrison and Deirdre Shesgreen

Sen. Lindsey Graham called officials in multiple states on election, mail-in voting

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ally of the president, has called officials in multiple swing states about election results and how they verify ballots.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger accused Graham on Monday of pressuring him to find ways to exclude or invalidate legally cast absentee ballots and reverse Trump’s loss in the state, Raffensperger said in an interview with the Washington Post.

Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday he has also called officials in Arizona and Nevada about the election, specifically to question the process for validating signatures on ballots. Graham said he spoke with Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and an official in Nevada whose name he could not recall.

Asked in what capacity he was making these calls, Graham said he was making the calls “as a United States Senator who is worried about the integrity of the election process nationally, when it comes to vote by mail.”

The South Carolina senator told reporters he was stepping in to check on other states.

He denied claims that he was pressuring officials to exclude ballots. “What I’m trying to find out is how you verify mail-in ballots,” he said, adding that there should be a bipartisan method in examining signatures and verifying ballots in states due to the expansion of mail-in voting this cycle.

– Christal Hayes

Biden names 9 White House aides

President-elect Joe Biden named nine White House aides on Tuesday, largely rewarding campaign staffers with plum assignments in his administration.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager and only the second woman to steer a successful presidential campaign, will become deputy chief of staff.

Steve Ricchetti, a longtime Biden adviser and lobbyist, will become counselor to the president.

Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who was national co-chairman of Biden’s campaign, will become senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Biden team:Joe Biden names 9 top White House appointees, including Rep. Cedric Richmond and campaign manager O’Malley Dillon

Biden fleshed out his White House staff despite President Donald Trump continuing to fight results of the election in court. The staffing announcements followed Biden’s naming of Ron Klain, another former aide, as his chief of staff.

“I am proud to announce additional members of my senior team who will help us build back better than before,” Biden said in a statement. “America faces great challenges, and they bring diverse perspectives and a shared commitment to tackling these challenges and emerging on the other side a stronger, more united nation.”

– Bart Jansen

Sen. Chuck Grassley quarantining after COVID exposure

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19, he announced Tuesday.

“I learned today that I’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. I will follow my doctors’ orders and immediately quarantine as I await my test results. I’m feeling well and not currently experiencing any symptoms, but it’s important we all follow public health guidelines to keep each other healthy,” the senator said.

Grassley plans to continue working virtually from home, according to the statement.

The 87-year-old senator chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is the president pro tempore of the Senate, making him third in line for the presidency after the vice president and speaker of the house. He was first elected to the Senate in 1980.

– Sean Rossman and Stephen Gruber-Miller

Biden warns ‘more people may die’ from COVID without cooperation on transition

President-elect Joe Biden put the potential impact of the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with his transition team in stark terms on Monday, saying “more people may die” if they are not able to coordinate on management of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite insurmountable vote counts, the president has continued to refuse to concede the race, baselessly insisting the election was stolen, citing false claims about widespread voter fraud. Amid his legal challenges to the election results, his administration has not authorized funds needed to initiate the transition, shared the president’s daily intelligence briefing with Biden or coordinated with Biden’s coronavirus team.

Biden said formalizing the transition to his administration would help him pull together a serious and consistent plan for dealing with the pandemic while choosing his personnel and coordinating with business and labor officials.

“It would make it a lot easier if the president were to participate,” Biden said.

Biden said that while Monday’s news of second successful vaccine in early trials was important, the important work of giving to more than 300 million Americans lay ahead, and a coordinated transition would speed that process along.

“Getting a vaccine and a vaccination are two different things,” Biden said. “The sooner we have access to the administration’s distribution plan, the sooner this transition would smoothly move forward.”

– William Cummings and Bart Jansen

Trump is expected to order troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq

President Donald Trump intends to order the withdrawal of U.S. troops from war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to two administration sources.

The cuts would take effect by mid-January, according to the sources who were not authorized to speak publicly. Trump is scheduled to leave office on Jan. 20. President-elect Joe Biden would have the authority to reverse Trump’s order after he takes power.

There are about 4,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and a few thousand in Iraq. Trump has vowed to end what he has referred to as “endless wars” in those countries. The United States has had troops in Afghanistan since 2001 after the 9/11 terror attacks, and in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

Troop withdrawals:President Trump is expected to order troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq

Under the plan, which the sources said is being finalized, there would be about 2,500 U.S. troops total in each country once the drawdown is completed.

Trump has reduced troop levels in both countries since taking office. However, officials at the Pentagon have pushed back on precipitous withdrawals, arguing that reductions should be based on security conditions in each country.

– David Jackson and Tom Vanden Brook





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