Posted on: November 20, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

first_imgSupporters of President Trump gathered outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. The law firm Porter Wright said the Trump campaign would be “best served” if the firm withdrew from the case.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times President Trump’s last-ditch efforts to reverse the election seem to come down to a far-fetched scenario, one in which Republican-led state legislatures choose the members of the Electoral College, overturning the will of voters.Could it work? Election law experts are highly skeptical. And leaders of the Republican majorities in legislatures in key states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, told The New York Times this week through their offices that they saw no role for themselves in picking electors.That has not stopped some high-profile supporters of the president, including the talk radio host Mark Levin and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, from suggesting that Republican-led legislatures should consider ignoring the popular vote in close-fought states won by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and handing their electoral votes to Mr. Trump.This political gambit, to the degree that it’s an organized strategy at all, has a theoretical basis in law, according to experts. But if it were to proceed, it could cause widespread outrage and be seen as an attempt to subvert the democratic process.Benjamin Ginsberg, until recently one of the Republican Party’s top elections lawyers, called the strategy an act of desperation, one that many Republican lawmakers would not buy into. “The most partisan Trump legislators might, but I believe enough would rebel at hijacking their constituents’ votes that such actions would fail,” he said.Here’s how such a scheme would theoretically play out. The Constitution gives state legislatures the power to determine the “manner” in which electors are appointed to the Electoral College, the body of 538 people who formally choose the president. Every state has already done that, by specifying in its laws that the winner of the statewide popular vote is entitled to the state’s presidential electors (Maine and Nebraska apportion some electors by congressional district).The Electoral Count Act, a 19th-century law, sets up the mechanism for how that takes place. It directs governors to certify both the election results and a slate of presidential electors to represent the will of the people. In general practice, governors certify electors chosen by the party of the presidential candidate who won their state.The Electoral Count Act also says that in the event of “failed elections,” in which voters have not made a choice for president, state legislatures are empowered to step in and appoint electors. The 1876 law is ambiguous about what constitutes a “failed” election. But the law does contain a deadline for states to certify elections: the “safe harbor” date, which this year is Dec. 8. Electors chosen before that date cannot be challenged by Congress.A flurry of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, most of which have been defeated in court, appear aimed at slowing down states’ certification timelines and possibly providing a pretext to declare a “failed” election.At the same time, election law experts said none of the lawsuits presented evidence of widespread fraud that could reverse Mr. Trump’s deficits. With Arizona added to Mr. Biden’s column on Thursday, he has comfortably won the election with at least 290 projected electoral votes, 20 more than needed for a majority. Two states, North Carolina and Georgia, remain undecided.Bob Bauer, a leading Democratic elections lawyer and senior adviser to the Biden campaign, dismissed the notion of legislatures picking electors. “When all is said and done, you can’t stop the process from coming to the inevitable conclusion,” he said. President Trump lost the election last week, and even if he refuses to acknowledge it, the moment he is out of office, he will lose the constitutional protection from prosecution afforded to a sitting president. And then he will become more vulnerable than ever to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., into his family business and its practices, as well as his taxes.The two-year inquiry, the only known active criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, has been stalled since last fall, when the president sued to block a subpoena for his tax returns and other records, a bitter dispute that for the second time is before the U.S. Supreme Court.A ruling is expected soon, and if the Supreme Court rules that Mr. Vance is entitled to the records, and he uncovers possible crimes, Mr. Trump could face a reckoning with law enforcement — further inflaming political tensions and raising the startling specter of a criminal conviction, or even prison, for a former president.Mr. Trump has contended that the investigation by Mr. Vance, a Democrat, is a politically motivated fishing expedition, a claim he has made about federal inquiries into his 2016 campaign and some of his associates.The president has already used his presidential powers to pardon those close to him who were charged with federal crimes. And in his remaining days in office, he will likely make liberal use of the pardon pen on behalf of associates, family members and possibly even himself, as he claimed he has the right to do.But the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation has taken on even greater significance because the president’s pardon power does not extend to state crimes, like the possible violations under investigation by Mr. Vance. Voting officials sorting absentee ballots at the Clerk’s Office in Lansing, Mich., on Election Day. Officials across the country have said the vote went smoothly.Credit…Bryan Denton for The New York Times Mr. Biden now has 306 electoral votes and Mr. Trump has 232. Mr. Biden became president-elect when he won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes on Saturday, passing the required 270-vote threshold.The victory for Mr. Biden in Georgia — a once reliably Republican state whose politics have been pushed to the left — means he flipped five states that Mr. Trump won in 2016. The others were Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Mr. Trump did not flip any states this year.Mr. Biden’s margin in Georgia currently stands at just over 14,000 votes, or 0.28 percentage points, with nearly all of the ballots counted. Mr. Trump’s margin in North Carolina is more than 73,000 votes, or 1.3 percentage points.- Advertisement – The Secret Service’s uniformed officer division has sustained a coronavirus outbreak, according to four people briefed on the matter, the latest blow to a beleaguered agency that has struggled to perform its duties during the pandemic.The outbreak is at least the fourth to strike the agency since the pandemic began, further hobbling its staffing as it is being called on to provide full protection to President Trump and President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.At least 30 uniformed Secret Service officers have tested positive in recent weeks for the virus, and about 60 have been asked by the agency to quarantine, according to the people. The Washington Post first reported the outbreak.It was unclear how the officers contracted the virus. Many traveled to campaign events for both candidates in the final weeks of the campaign, the people said. Several senior White House officials and Trump allies also got the virus after attending an election night party at the White House.A spokeswoman said the Secret Service kept up its duties during the campaign and that it was taking precautions, including testing and contact tracing as well as isolation, to respond to Covid-19. “The health and safety of our work force is paramount,” said the spokeswoman, Julia McMurray.Officers in the uniformed division are different from the famed Secret Service agents who guard presidents and their families. The officers provide protection for physical locations like the White House and the vice president’s home at the Naval Observatory in Washington or screen crowds at public events.Several officers and agents expressed concerns in the final weeks of the presidential race that they wanted to avoid traveling to campaign events across the country. They feared contracting the virus at the events or while traveling, according to two people briefed on the matter.The pandemic has been particularly taxing on law enforcement agencies whose officers come in direct contact with people to do their work. In August, at least 11 employees at the Secret Service’s training facility in Maryland tested positive for the virus.Earlier in the summer, two members of the Secret Service who were dispatched to provide security at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., tested positive. Around that time, Vice President Mike Pence canceled a trip to Florida after members of his detail showed symptoms of the virus. Representatives-elect Cori Bush, a progressive Democrat wearing a Breonna Taylor face mask, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon-promoting Republican whose entourage sported MAGA gear, arrived at freshman orientation in Washington within minutes of each other on Thursday, offering vastly different visions for their parties and for a new Congress.The freshman class of the 117th Congress — featuring a surge of conservative women who stunned centrist Democrats at the polls last week, but also an ascendant left that ousted establishment Democrats in primaries — is undergoing an unusual pandemic-era orientation process on Capitol Hill. Despite their deep ideological differences, many of the first-year lawmakers said they were hoping to collaborate. “We’re going have to be able to work together,” Ms. Bush said. “We have districts that have needs that are similar. Hopefully, they’re willing to listen to me. I’m willing to listen to them. I’m already seeing Make America Great Again hats, but I have on my Breonna Taylor. So we’re going to talk and hopefully this 117th, it will show the diversity.”By Friday, Ms. Bush took to Twitter that say that some of her Republican colleagues apparently were unfamiliar with Ms. Taylor, who was killed by the police in Kentucky in a case that drew international attention and sparked massive protests. “It’s Day One, so I’m wearing my ‘Breonna Taylor’ mask,” she wrote. “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.” For her part, Ms. Greene, who was seen briefly removing her American flag mask upon checking in at orientation on Thursday and declined to talk to reporters, ridiculed her new colleagues on Friday for promoting the wearing of face coverings to stop the spread of the coronavirus.“Our first session of New Member Orientation covered COVID in Congress,” she tweeted. “Masks, masks, masks …. I proudly told my freshman class that masks are oppressive. In GA, we work out, shop, go to restaurants, go to work, and school without masks. My body, my choice.”She appended the hashtag “#FreeYourFace.”The virus is surging in Georgia, where over the past week, there has been an average of 2,460 cases per day, an increase of 26 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Perhaps the most significant feature of the new class is the fact Republican women have more than doubled their numbers. Of the 10 incumbent Democrats who lost their seats in last week’s election, eight were defeated by Republican women. “It’s not just Democrat women that have the monopoly on breaking glass ceilings; Republican women have been doing it all their lives,” said Representative-elect Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, who knocked off a centrist Democrat. Ms. Mace is the first woman to graduate from the Citadel and the first to represent her state in Congress. “To see us double the number of Republican women in the House this year is pretty phenomenal. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is. If you want women to have a seat at the table, if you want to be in office, we have to run in order to win,” she said. “That’s what we did this year.” President Trump at the White House last week. When he leaves office, he will become more vulnerable than ever to an active criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times People celebrated in Atlanta last week after President-elect Joseph R. Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election.Credit…Meridith Kohut for The New York Times More than 160 former public officials from both parties, many with deep national security and military experience, warned on Friday that the Trump administration’s refusal to give President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. immediate access to intelligence briefings and other transition services “poses a serious risk to our national security.”The former officials include military generals and admirals, ambassadors and members of Congress; some worked for President Trump. And they join a handful of Republicans who have broken rank with party leaders this week to compel the Trump administration to start briefing Mr. Biden and his team on intelligence matters. “The time has come for you to recognize that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the apparent victors of the presidential election and are therefore the President-elect and Vice President-elect,” they wrote in a letter to Emily W. Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration. “Although counting is still ongoing in some states, the math makes apparent what will soon become official: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have clearly prevailed.”Ms. Murphy has taken the nearly unprecedented step of refusing to issue a letter of “ascertainment,” which would allow Mr. Biden’s transition team to begin the transfer of power. The letter’s signatories include a string of boldface names: Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska and Secretary of Defense; Michael V. Hayden, a retired general and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Wesley Clark, a retired general who sought the presidency in 2004; Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia, and others. They noted that delays in the transition after the contested election of 2000 left the country vulnerable to the 9/11 attacks, and that the 9/11 Commission had recommended minimizing disruption during presidential transitions. “That recommendation carries all the more force amidst a once-in-a-century pandemic,” they wrote.Earlier this week, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the majority whip; Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate; Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. Trump’s; and Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma said Mr. Biden should receive the briefings as well — in particular, the President’s Daily Brief, which is a compendium of the nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets and assessments of threats like terrorist plots and cyberattack vulnerabilities. Only four sitting senators in the president’s party have publicly congratulated Mr. Biden on his victory. One of them, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, made her view on the concerns about the national security transition plain on Thursday: “President-elect Biden should be receiving intelligence briefings right now,” she said. “It’s probably the most important part of the transition.” President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met with their Covid-19 Advisory Council via Zoom in Wilmington, Del., on Monday.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times A mostly virtual session of the Pennsylvania Senate in March. Republican leaders have said the State Legislature would have no role in choosing presidential electors.Credit…Dan Gleiter/The Patriot-News, via Associated Press In his first big interview as a senator-elect, Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, misidentified the three branches of the federal government, claimed erroneously that World War II was a battle against socialism and wrongly asserted that former Vice President Al Gore was president-elect for 30 days.Mr. Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach who decisively defeated Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat, last week, gave the remarkable interview to The Alabama Daily News on Thursday after attending orientation for new senators in Washington.Asked if he thought Republicans could still use their potential Senate majority to pass legislation in divided government, with Democrats controlling the White House and House of Representatives, Mr. Tuberville replied that he had been given a mandate to “help people,” adding, “I don’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat.”“Our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three branches of government — wasn’t set up that way,” Mr. Tuberville said. “You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive.”The three branches of the federal government, as laid out in the Constitution, are the legislative, including both the House and Senate; the executive, or presidency; and judicial, which includes the Supreme Court.Asked to opine on the key takeaways from the election, Mr. Tuberville said he was concerned that Mr. Biden, a mainstream, centrist Democrat, had promoted a vision that he claimed “leads more to a socialist type of government.”“That’s concerning to me, that we’re to the point now where we’ve got almost half the country voting for something that this country wasn’t built on,” Mr. Tuberville said. “I tell people, my dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of socialism.”World War II was a global battle against fascism.Mr. Tuberville also said he planned to use his Senate office to raise money for two Republican senators in Georgia who are facing runoff elections that will determine control of the chamber. Senate ethics rules bar the use of official resources for campaign purposes.And in another exchange, he erroneously said that Mr. Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2000, was president-elect for 30 days during an intense, protracted recount and legal battle. Neither Mr. Gore nor George W. Bush were considered the president-elect during that process.The interview amounted to the most in-depth remarks Mr. Tuberville had given since he was elected last week. He cut a low profile on the campaign trail, rarely making himself available to reporters other than those at conservative outlets, but had positioned himself as a staunch supporter of President Trump. President Trump on Friday falsely maintained that the election he lost was “rigged” against him, even as he claimed credit for his administration overseeing “the most secure election ever.”“For years the Dems have been preaching how unsafe and rigged our elections have been. Now they are saying what a wonderful job the Trump Administration did in making 2020 the most secure election ever,” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet. “Actually this is true, except for what the Democrats did. Rigged Election!” (Twitter added a label to the message saying, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”)That the two sentiments are at odds didn’t appear to bother Mr. Trump, who also insisted, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, that he would win several states that have already been called for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.“We’re going to win Wisconsin,” Mr. Trump said about a state that Mr. Biden has already won and where he is leading by more than 20,000 votes. “Arizona — it’ll be down to 8,000 votes, and if we can do an audit of the millions of votes, we’ll find 8,000 votes easy,” Mr. Trump added. “If we can do an audit, we’ll be in good shape there.” Mr. Biden also won Arizona, where he leads Mr. Trump by more than 11,000 votes.Later, he claimed it would take about “two weeks, three weeks” to overturn the results of the election, and he warned, “Never bet against me.”In Georgia, where Mr. Biden leads by over 14,000 votes, auditors are reviewing ballots by hand, but elections officials said the audit was unlikely to change the outcome in the state. Similar audits are not underway in other states.Karl Rove, the Republican heavyweight who served as an adviser to the Trump campaign, penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal this week headlined “This Election Result Won’t Be Overturned.” In it he wrote, “The president’s efforts are unlikely to move a single state from Mr. Biden’s column.” Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, the law firm leading the Trump campaign’s efforts to cast doubt on the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, abruptly withdrew from a federal lawsuit that it filed days earlier on behalf of President Trump.“Plaintiffs and Porter Wright have reached a mutual agreement that plaintiffs will be best served if Porter Wright withdraws,” the law firm said in a federal court filing.The firm’s withdrawal followed an article in The New York Times on Monday describing internal tensions at the firm about its work for Mr. Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania, where the campaign has filed several lawsuits alleging voting irregularities. (The state’s attorney general said recently that here is no evidence of widespread problems.) Some Porter Wright employees said they were concerned that the firm was being used to undercut the integrity of the electoral process. One of the firm’s lawyer resigned in protest over the summer.Porter Wright, based in Columbus, Ohio, has received at least $727,000 in fees from the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, according to federal election disclosures.The law firm on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the Trump campaign. The suit, which is pending, alleged that there were “irregularities” in the presidential vote across the state, which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by more than 50,000 votes.The Democratic National Committee has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Democratic congressional leaders warned that President Trump’s stonewalling is already doing damage to the country’s ability to deal with foreign leaders — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. made his first contacts on unsecured telephone lines — and plans for how to handle the most high-risk period in the spread of the coronavirus and bolster the economic recovery.“It is most unfortunate that the Republicans have decided that they will not respect the will of the people, and let me just say: It’s like the house is burning down and they just refused to throw water on it,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said.Mr. Biden’s decades of experience in Washington will likely soften those consequences, the Democrats said.Deprived of access to secure government communications by the Trump administration, Mr. Biden’s team of more than 500 former officials and outside experts has embraced workarounds, talking over encrypted apps like Signal to shield their conversations from the Chinese, meeting in outdoor coffee shops with government officials they once worked alongside. The conversations are circumspect, both because of rules on both sides limiting how much information Mr. Biden’s team can seek and how much executive branch officials are allowed to say, participants said.Mr. Biden was forced to use open lines when foreign leaders call to congratulate him, as the Japanese prime minister and South Korean president did on Wednesday. With Mr. Trump unwilling to recognize the election result and authorize the “ascertainment” that allows formal transition to begin, the White House Communications Agency is forbidden to run secure lines to Mr. Biden’s house in Delaware.It may be weeks until Mr. Biden’s so-called agency review teams, made up of longtime government officials with deep roots in the bureaucracy, are let into the government departments that a Biden administration will run starting at noon on Jan. 20. Some issues can wait until a formal ascertainment is declared, giving them access to the offices and classified material.Mr. Biden’s aides say they have been warned not to get into detailed conversations with government officials, even career officials, until they receive the formal approval that transition has begun. But there is no prohibition on talking with officials who worked for the Trump administration and left. And many informal conversations between former political officials and those career government officials who stayed on have been going on for four years — and never really stopped.The last remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, called New START, expires days after the inauguration. Mr. Biden has expressed a willingness to renew it, but his national security staff has had no access to the detailed discussions between the national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, and his Kremlin counterpart, or a team of State Department negotiators who have dealt with Russia on questions like inspections and verification.In many ways, what is happening now, officials said, is a reverse of four years ago — when President Barack Obama’s team was ready with detailed briefings and simulations of potential crises (including a pandemic flu), and Mr. Trump’s advisers were unwilling to receive them.Now, Mr. Biden has loaded his transition team with many of the same officials who were ready to brief the Trump appointees. In a strong blow to the Trump campaign’s legal efforts to try to overturn the results of the election that President Trump lost, a state court judge in Michigan rejected on Friday a Republican request to halt the certification of the vote in Wayne County — home to Detroit — pending an audit of the count. The ruling by the judge, Timothy M. Kenny, ended an unusual legal effort that could have disrupted the certification of the vote in Michigan. It was one two decisive defeats the Trump campaign suffered on Friday in its efforts to challenge the nation’s election results.In his ruling, Judge Kenny noted that the audit requested by the two Republican plaintiffs in the case would have been “unwieldy” and forced the rest of Michigan to wait for its results to be certified.“It would be an unprecedented exercise of judicial activism for this court to stop the certification process,” he added.Judge Kenny’s decision came in response to a wide-ranging lawsuit filed by two Republican poll workers, Cheryl Costantino and Edward McCall, who made broad claims of irregularities during the vote count in Detroit’s TCF Convention Center. The plaintiffs maintained that some poll workers were coaching voters to cast their ballots for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., that some Republican poll challengers were not given adequate access to monitor the vote count, and that loads of ballots were improperly brought into the convention center in the middle of the night.Lawyers for Detroit and the Michigan Democratic Party had argued in court papers that about 100 Republican poll challengers were in fact let into the convention center, but that some were not allowed to return after leaving once the room filled up.Judge Kenny wrote that while he took some of these allegations seriously, some were too general to be proven and others were “rife with speculation and guesswork.” Less than two hours before the ruling in Detroit, the Trump campaign effectively dropped its so-called “Sharpiegate” lawsuit in Arizona, which had claimed that some ballots cast for Mr. Trump were invalidated after voters used Sharpie pens, admitting that not enough presidential votes were at stake in the case to affect the outcome of the race.The suit stemmed from a viral rumor that falsely claimed Arizona’s voting machines were incapable of tabulating ballots that were filled out with Sharpies.In what is known as a notice of mootness, Kory Langhofer, a lawyer for the campaign, acknowledged that “a tabulation of the votes statewide has rendered unnecessary a judicial ruling as to the presidential electors.”The Arizona attorney general had already conducted an inquiry into the matter and found that the use of Sharpies in Maricopa County “did not result in disenfranchisement.” Mr. Biden was declared the winner of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes Thursday night, after he finished more than 11,000 votes ahead of President Trump.At a hearing on Thursday, a Maricopa County elections official testified that only 191 presidential votes in the county might have been affected by Mr. Langhofer’s suit. The case will continue, however, for two minor down-ballot races. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will have to navigate the divide between progressives and centrists in his party, including differences over the rules governing the staff members he appoints.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has promised to appoint a secretary with teaching experience and a deep knowledge of the challenges schools face and the students they serve.Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in North Carolina in 2016 by fewer than four percentage points, but the state has been reliably red for decades: Since 1976, the only Democrat to prevail has been Barack Obama, who narrowly won in 2008.Flipping Georgia, a state last won by a Democrat in 1992, was dramatic, but it was years in the making: Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016 by five percentage points, a far slimmer margin than Republicans enjoyed in previous presidential elections. Georgia’s vote count is currently the subject of an audit, though state officials have said that the results are unlikely to change. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s team is concerned that it is being shut out of planning for distribution of a coronavirus vaccine.Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times In addition to President Trump’s contradictory statements, he also falsely claimed he would win several states that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. had already won.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times “We’re going to have to be able to work together,” said Representative-elect Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri.Credit…Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images “Our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three branches of government — wasn’t set up that way,” said Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama. “You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive.”Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times Secret Service officers patrol grounds nearby to protect locations like the White House.Credit…Cheriss May for The New York Times Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. The Federal Trade Commission is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against the company.Credit…Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters Supporters of President Trump outside the Arizona state capitol in Phoenix last week. Mr. Trump lost Arizona to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.Credit…Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times MARIETTA, Ga.— The arduous slog of recounting nearly 5 million Georgia ballots by hand got off to a smooth and rather mundane start Friday, as auditors began the process of checking basic math, and some voters’ intentions, in a race in which President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads President Trump by more than 14,000 votes.The Georgia count, technically an audit, is a logistically challenging lift occurring in each of the state’s 159 counties. Local officials must submit new counts by Wednesday night, two days before the statewide certification deadline of Nov. 20.The Trump campaign can then request a third tally — a formal recount — if Mr. Biden leads by less than half a percentage point. As of Friday afternoon, he was ahead by 0.3 percentage points. Given Mr. Biden’s margin, election observers do not believe any number of counts will alter the outcome. Nevertheless, Mr. Trump told The Washington Examiner in an interview published Friday, “When you hand-count — I think we’re going to win Georgia.”The audit was ordered by Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, after the Trump campaign and the state Republican Party demanded a hand recount, alleging that ineligible and even dead people voted. Mr. Raffensperger has said that while his office would investigate allegations of irregularities, the overall process had been legitimate. Even if Mr. Trump were to somehow win Georgia, Mr. Biden, with 290 electoral votes already, is the winner of the national election. Mr. Trump is pursuing legal challenges in several states he lost.In the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, even as election officials were certifying the initial count — Mr. Biden won there by more than 56,000 votes — the recount got underway.Poll workers gathered around folding tables in a cavernous room as a county employee barked out instructions like a high school teacher before a standardized test. “The first thing you’ve got to do with these boxes is figure out what the name of it is,” the employee said.At each table, workers broke open taped-up boxes and removed fat stacks of ballots sealed in clear plastic bags. At Team 12’s table, a man held a sheaf of ballots, declared the name of the candidate on each one, and handed it to a woman standing across the table who double-checked him, then placed the ballot in a bin with the candidate’s name.The ballots being counted Friday morning were cast on Election Day and at early-voting sites using a touch-screen system that produces a paper printout and seldom yields ambiguous results. Later in the day, said Janine Eveler, the county director of elections and registration, the workers would move on to hand-marked absentee ballots, which could have more issues to be adjudicated.But Ms. Eveler said that in Cobb County, such ballots deemed to have some kind of potential issue in the first counting — about five or six boxes’ worth —- had already been separated out and adjudicated once, making it extremely unlikely that significant numbers of votes will change in the recount.Any ambiguous ballots, including the batch that was already segregated and adjudicated, will be sent to a county adjudication panel consisting of a Democrat, a Republican and a representative from the county election board that will meet publicly on Saturday. If there is a discrepancy in the total after this new count, Ms. Eveler said, the total would be recertified.Observers of the process on Friday were allowed to watch from an area separated off by tape. Three or four were concerned citizens of a conservative bent. Despite the careful and meticulous process he was watching, one Cobb County resident, Hale Soucie, 28, said he remained concerned that the count was corrupt.“This is kind of just, you know, a show,” he said. Here’s what you need to know: An election official sorting ballots during an audit in Rome, Ga. on Friday.Credit…Ben Gray/Associated Press President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr’s administration is planning to undo the legacy of the Trump administration’s education policies by drastically increasing resources for public schools, expanding its civil rights advocacy for marginalized students and reasserting the department’s leadership in policymaking.It is in stark contrast to the Trump-era policies led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a lifelong booster of private schools and longtime opponent of the teachers’ unions, set out to reduce the Education Department’s footprint by proposing cuts to public school funding and narrowing the department’s enforcement role of federal education laws and civil rights.And on the most pressing issue facing education — reopening schools during the pandemic — the incoming Biden administration has signaled an about-face, planning a much more cautious approach.The Trump administration has demanded that schools reopen, despite severe budget constraints and confusing public health guidelines, while the Education Department has all but absolved itself of tracking the virus’s impact and offering solutions. The Biden campaign has promised deep federal involvement to help schools secure more relief funding and navigate the effects of the pandemic, which has devastated the academic trajectory of the most vulnerable students.Mr. Biden, whose wife, Jill Biden, is a community college professor and member of the National Education Association, has promised to appoint a secretary with teaching experience and a deep knowledge of the challenges schools face and the students they serve.The Biden administration plans to restore Obama-era civil rights guidance — rescinded by Ms. DeVos — that offered transgender students the right to choose school bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, that addressed the disproportionate disciplining of Black students and that pressed for diversity in colleges and K-12 classrooms. The restoration of those guidance documents can be done immediately because they were not put through the regulatory process or enacted into law.Undoing what is arguably Ms. DeVos’s most formidable accomplishment — how federally funded schools should investigate cases of sexual assault — could be tougher. The incoming administration has vowed to dismantle those rules. As vice president, Mr. Biden had personally helped introduce the Obama-era guidelines on campus sexual misconduct that Ms. DeVos reversed through formal and protracted rule-making. Mr. Biden’s late surge in Georgia, thanks to his dominance in Atlanta, Savannah and the increasingly Democrat-friendly suburbs around both, transformed what had seemed to be a safe Trump state in early tabulations last week into one of the closest contests in the nation.Mr. Trump spurred near-record turnout in the rural southwestern parts of the state bordering Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, the white outer suburbs and small cities, and the Appalachian northwest, which touches deep-red Tennessee. Mr. Biden was powered by high turnout among Black voters in Atlanta, and flipped some suburban white voters in the moderate suburban counties that ring the city.In North Carolina, Black voters shattered early voting records in the weeks leading up to the election. But despite a significant, late get-out-the-vote push by Democrats to motivate Black and Latino voters, Mr. Trump — who visited North Carolina a half-dozen times in the weeks leading up to the election — was more effective in motivating his base of white working-class and rural voters.- Advertisement – Joe Simons, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, said Thursday that monopolies could “squash” smaller competitors by buying them, a possible warning shot ahead of the agency’s expected lawsuit against Facebook. The statement highlights how the agency’s approach to antitrust could change under a Biden administration, as the Democratic Party’s left wing pushes for even tougher enforcement, the DealBook newsletter reports.A debate has raged between more laissez-faire conservatives and the so-called progressive “hipster antitrust movement” seeking a more muscular competition policy overhaul, especially toward Big Tech. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to seek a balance between these competing ideologies.The F.T.C.’s five commissioners are currently three Republicans and two Democrats. The Democrats, Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Slaughter, often oppose the majority’s “permissive” treatment of corporations, and one of them could become the new head of the agency. Indeed, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce recently urged Mr. Simons to “immediately stop work on all partisan, controversial items,” noting that leadership “will undoubtedly be changing.” F.T.C. commissioners serve staggered terms and need Senate approval, so it could take time for the balance to shift. In any case, experts say the political climate isn’t ripe for an aggressive policy overhaul. David Vladeck, a Georgetown University law professor and former director of the F.T.C.’s consumer protection unit, said that even though “antitrust laws haven’t worked very well in the digital economy,” he doubted a revolution was either desirable or possible. Similarly, Eleanor Fox and Harry First of New York University, who recently outlined new rules to rein in Big Tech, said there was plenty of room for consensus in the ideological middle, balancing nuanced views on market efficiency and consolidation. And Sean Royall, a former deputy director of the F.T.C.’s competition bureau who is now a partner at the legal giant Kirkland & Ellis, said, “The changes we expect are on balance fairly moderate.” Hours after President Trump repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide,” he was directly contradicted by a group of federal, state and local election officials, who flatly declared Thursday that the election “was the most secure in American history” and that “there is no evidence” any voting systems were compromised.The rebuke, in a statement by a coordinating council overseeing the voting systems used around the country, never mentioned Mr. Trump by name. But it amounted to a remarkable corrective to a wave of disinformation that Mr. Trump has been pushing across his Twitter feed.“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 officials added in their statement. “When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”The statement was distributed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is responsible for helping states secure the voting process. Coming directly from one of Mr. Trump’s own cabinet agencies, it further isolated the president in his false claims that widespread fraud cost him the election.The statement also came as a previously unified Republican Party showed signs of cracking on the question of whether to keep backing the president.Across the country, election officials have said the vote came off smoothly, with no reports of systemic fraud in any state, no sign of foreign interference in the voting infrastructure and no hardware or software failures beyond the episodic glitches that happen in any election. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead in the popular vote has expanded to more than five million, and he has won a solid victory in the Electoral College.The group that issued the statement was the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council, which includes top officials from the cybersecurity agency, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and secretaries of state and state election directors from around the country. The group also includes representatives from the voting machine industry, which has often been accused of being slow to admit to technological shortcomings and resistant to creating paper backups. President Trump’s refusal to concede the election and allow President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s team access to key health officials could make it harder for the federal government to distribute a vaccine for the virus, once one is approved, a top Biden adviser said.“Right now — 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,” Mr. Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said Thursday evening on MSNBC. “And 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.”Since Mr. Biden became the president-elect, states across the country have reported 738,709 new coronavirus cases and 6,283 deaths. Some governors are considering new lockdowns, and hospital systems in hard hit areas are filling rapidly.Mr. Trump, who dismissed the seriousness of the virus for months ahead of the election, has remained mostly silent about the pandemic raging across the nation.Mr. Biden has said efforts to get the virus under control would begin on the first day of his administration. But not having these months to prepare for the transition will make that difficult, putting even more American lives in peril.Mr. Biden’s advisers say that they understand very little about the workings of Warp Speed, the Trump administration project that has vaccine distribution planning well underway.For now, Mr. Biden’s coronavirus-related teams are focusing on logistical challenges and policy questions, like how to prioritize who gets a vaccine, and how to make distribution equitable along racial and socioeconomic lines — a priority of Mr. Biden’s, but one rarely discussed by Mr. Trump — one senior adviser to the president-elect said.Access to the Trump distribution plan will become increasingly important “from an operational perspective,” so the Biden team can take over without any hiccups, said the senior adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal transition details.The Biden team also hopes to implement a national testing strategy but will have to start from scratch, because the Trump administration does not have one. Biden advisers are seeking guidance from groups including the Rockefeller Foundation, which has drafted a national Covid-19 testing plan and is partnering with states and cities to expand testing efforts. WASHINGTON — The alarm bells sounded immediately among some progressives when President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. released the list of advisers this week who will help him with the transition at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the $5 trillion federal budget and shapes regulations on everything from labor standards to air pollution.Mr. Biden’s team included executives from Amazon Web Services, Lyft, Airbnb and a vice president of WestExec Advisors, a Washington consulting firm whose secretive list of clients includes financial services, technology and pharmaceutical companies.“This puts us at a state of high alarm,” said Jeff Hauser, who runs the Revolving Door Project, a liberal group that has been pressuring the Biden administration to stay away from not only lobbyists but also individuals coming out of the business world whom Mr. Hauser and other activists call “corporatists.”His concerns are an early manifestation of a percolating and broader clash between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the more establishment members of Mr. Biden’s core team over the role of corporate executives, lobbyists and consultants in the incoming administration.An early indicator of Mr. Biden’s efforts to navigate this divide will come when he announces ethics rules for his government, a move expected in the hours after his inauguration.The progressive activists want him to adopt hiring practices that go far beyond policies embraced by former President Barack Obama, who barred officials in his administration from working on issues on which they had lobbied in the past two years.The Biden transition team did not respond to several requests to comment. Chuck Hagel, the former Secretary of Defense, and other former public officials from both parties wrote a letter to the General Services Administration on Friday.Credit…Stephen Crowley/The New York Times President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. narrowly defeated President Trump in Georgia and Mr. Trump won North Carolina, as the two final states were called on Friday a week and a half after Election Day.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img

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