CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the AP and USA Today all made the call. Fox News did not immediately follow suit.
Votes in Philadelphia pushed his margin in must-win Pennsylvania over the edge. That took him to 273 electoral votes – putting the 77-year-old on a clear path to the White House.
Kamala Harris, his running mate becomes the first female vice president, and the first black and Asian-American vice president.
AFTER THE ELECTION: THE DATES YOU NEED TO KNOW
NOVEMBER 23: All swing states election results are certified by this date
DECEMBER 8: ‘Safe harbor’ deadline which means the statutory deadline for resolving disputed results. If the states have followed correct procedures, whatever the result is on Dec. 8 stands, even if one side still disputes it
DECEMBER 14: Electoral college electors are chosen and sworn in
JANUARY 5: Georgia run-off elections for two Senate seats, determining who controls the Senate
JANUARY 6: Congress certifies the Electoral College votes
JANUARY 20: At midday the new president is sworn in and assumes all of the powers of commander-in-chief – including the ability to direct the Secret Service and U.S. Marshals to remove unwanted White House guests
The call ended a rollercoaster which began on Tuesday when polls closed, and now turns the spotlight on Donald Trump and how he will react.
Biden should now be sworn in on January 20 as the 46th President of the United States – barring an extraordinary legal upset caused by one of the blizzard of lawsuits Trump has threatened, but which so far have failed to generate legal traction.
The apparent president-elect is now preparing to address the nation tonight but there was no obvious sign that Trump will offer a concession speech or public appearance of his own.
The former vice president sealed victory – after capitalizing on the coronavirus and stark disapproval of the president among women and minorities – with a result that was dramatically closer than many experts had predicted, denying him what he hoped would a total rejection of Trumpism.
But on Friday night he hailed rebuilding the ‘blue wall,’ winning thumping popular vote margins and said he was on his way to more than 300 Electoral College votes.
That added up to a ‘mandate’ he said, name-checking racial equality and climate change as where he will take action in a sign that the Democratic takeover of the White House will be unapologetic in pursuing the party’s agenda.
He still faces an electoral battle, with two runoff races for both Georgia Senate seats on January 5 and the potential for Trump to cause chaos.
Trump, refusing to accept that the results so far have been legitimate, has vowed to contest them.
On Saturday morning he tweeted that his supporters have been banned from observing vote counting in some of the key swing states despite shouting ‘stop the count!’ and that officials had been ‘covering windows’ to block their views and forbidding them from overseeing the process.
He also promised a ‘big’ press conference in Philadelphia, where vote counting continues, where he said his lawyers would be present, then was seen leaving the White House in casual dress.
While in the car, he tweeted a link to a Breitbart story about a ‘glitch’ in vote counting software, then said: ‘I WON THIS ELECTION BY A LOT!’. He was seen arriving at his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, shortly afterwards.
Trump has not yet offered any proof of his claims. His campaign has vowed to file lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada to argue that the results cannot be trusted, and he is demanding a recount in Wisconsin.
It’s over: CNN calls the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
Moment of history: On Friday night, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris stood side by side as he spoke in Wilmington, DE, saying he was on his way. On Saturday he will address the nation
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Biden became the third person to knock off an incumbent this century, and the first since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992. Trump’s team announced it would file multiple lawsuits in an effort to prevent counting of votes that could go against him and is likely to hit back at the results
Trump is refusing to accept defeat. On Thursday night, he launched an astonishing 17-minute tirade from the White House briefing room where he claimed to be the victim of a conspiracy by big tech, big money, the Democrats and the media.
He has vowed not to accept the final results, and his own children are telling the country to ‘fight to the death’ not to accept them either.
In a statement on Friday morning, his campaign team said the election was ‘far from over’. They said it was a ‘false projection’ that Biden would win.
‘This election is no over. The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final.
‘Georgia is headed for a recount, where we are confident we will find ballots improperly harvested, and where President Trump will ultimately prevail.
‘There were many irregularities in Pennsylvania, including having election officials prevent our volunteer legal observers from having meaningful access to vote counting locations. We prevailed in court on our challenge but were deprived of valuable time and denied the transparency we are entitled to under state law.
‘In Nevada, there appear to be thousands of individuals who improperly cast mail ballots. Finally, the President is on course to win Arizona outright, despite the irresponsible and erroneous “calling” of the state for Biden by Fox News and the Associated Press.
‘Biden is relying on these states for his phony claim on the White House, but once the election is final, President Trump will be re-elected,’ Matt Morgan, his campaign general counsel, said.
His reluctance to accept the result poses an unprecedented scenario for the country and the world. It will make Biden’s transition to power more difficult.
Many networks on Thursday night refused to air Trump’s speech.
ABC, CBS and NBC cut away from the press conference before it finished, warning their viewers that Trump had made ‘a number of false statements’ that needed clarifying. MSNBC was the first to cut away, as anchor Brian Williams warned ‘here we go again’. Fox News and CNN covered it in full.
In a series of tweets sent at 2.30am, Trump continued his tirade – attacking social media regulation, making baseless claims of fraud, casting doubt over several close Senate races, and calling on the Supreme Court to intervene.
Biden also gave a speech Thursday, calling for calm and patience while the votes are counted, insisting once again that when the dust has settled he will have beaten Trump.
Biden on Wednesday issued a call for reconciliation after deep divisions and whipsaw headlines of the Trump administration.
He called to ‘lower the temperature’ and ‘listen to one another’ – even as Trump’s team announced it would file multiple lawsuits in an effort to prevent counting of votes that could go against him.
Biden became the third person to knock off an incumbent this century, and the first since Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in 1992.
‘Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well,’ the former vice president said from the stage of Wilmington’s Queen theater late Thursday afternoon. ‘So I ask everyone to stay calm, all people to stay calm. The process is working. The count is being completed and we’ll know very soon.’
He also tweeted: ‘No one is going to take our democracy away from us.
‘Not now, not ever. America has come too far, fought too many battles, and endured too much to let that happen. Keep the faith, folks.’
Biden won with what appears to be the narrowest of margins in the Electoral College, although additional states are still outstanding and could pad his total
Biden has now fulfilled his lifelong dream of the presidency, having failed in two other efforts, only to get selected by Barack Obama to serve as his running mate for two terms in the White House, pictured announcing his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988
Biden fulfilled a lifelong dream of the presidency, having failed in two other efforts, only to get selected by Barack Obama to serve as his running mate for two terms in the White House.
He contemplated a run of his own in 2016, but begged off after the death of his son Beau Biden from brain cancer. He made frequent reference to his personal struggles in his campaign. His wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi died in a tragic car crash in 1972, just as Biden was set to join the U.S. Senate.
The Irish Catholic Biden spoke frequently of his faith, and quoted aphorisms from his father, a car salesman, that usually began: ‘Joey …’.
Biden often speaks of his struggles growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania to a middle-class family and overcoming a stutter. The stutter occasionally reemerged during campaign events, but several Trump allies got burned when they mocked him for it. Biden is pictured at age 10
He’s spoken regularly about his hardscrabble hometown Scranton, Pennsylvania, having been left behind amid manufacturing losses.
Although his was a middle-class upbringing, he spoke of the anxiety of having a parent lose a job, and said he wore a ‘chip on his shoulder’ having attended a state school, the University of Delaware, rather than the Ivy League.
Although he spent 47-years in the Senate and began his career in law, he smoothed some of the edges of his bio to stress leaving a corporate firm to be a public defender, and working at a local community swimming pool frequented by black children.
He says his sense of justice was galvanized by the civil rights movement, but took pains not to paint himself as a hero of the struggle.
He forged a unique reputation for empathy in Washington that his team crafted into a balm for the tumult of the Trump era.
Before the virus hit, he was known to pose for every last selfie at the end of a campaign event. Sometimes people would confront him with tales of their own loss, and he would undoubtedly share his own struggles and offer reassurance.
Biden showed special compassion for those who, like he did as a child, suffered from a stutter, often making time to reassure them. He spoke publicly about how he overcame it and learned special techniques to mark his speeches and plan his words. The stutter occasionally reemerged during campaign events, but several Trump allies got burned when they mocked him for it.
He didn’t shy from talking about the tragedies that best him, and regularly touted the bio of his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who continues to teach community college.
But with all his talk of family woven into his wife and campaign, it was Biden’s son Hunter whose own life saga threatened to intrude on the father’s historic run.
Hunter already had an identity as somewhat of a ne’er-do-well, having struggled with drugs and been discharged from the Navy Reserve. Some lucrative and questionable business dealings in Ukraine while his father was vice president drew scrutiny from Trump allies, and Senate Republicans produced a report on his ‘corruption.’
Late in the race, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani provided what he said was Hunter’s laptop to the New York Post, and claimed sensational emails provided evidence of kickbacks showing he was part of a ‘crime family.’ Trump made attacks on Hunter and Joe a staple of his campaign rallies.
Biden called it a ‘smear campaign’ and managed to avoid addressing the substance of the charges, which allies said could be product of foreign disinformation.
Biden has made frequent references to his personal struggles in his campaign. His wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi died in a tragic car crash in 1972, just as Biden was set to join the U.S. Senate. Biden is pictured with his first wife Neilia and sons Hunter and Beau
Biden has been known as a people-person throughout his career, and before the virus hit, he was known to pose for every last selfie at the end of a campaign event. Sometimes people would confront him with tales of their own loss, and he would undoubtedly share his own struggles and offer reassurance. Pictured in 1988 after announcing his bid for president
The Irish Catholic Biden spoke frequently of his faith, and quoted aphorisms from his father, a car salesman, that usually began: ‘Joey …’. Biden is pictured with his father (right)
Biden has run his campaign on family values, pictured with his wife Jill, sons Hunter and Beau and daughter Ashley
Biden contemplated a run of his own in 2016, but begged off after the death of his son Beau Biden (right) from brain cancer. With all his talk of family woven into his wife and campaign, it was Biden’s son Hunter (left) whose own life saga threatened to intrude on the father’s historic run
With a disciplined and low-key campaign where he promised aggressive action to combat the virus, Biden delivered on Democratic dreams of turning the wealthy former reality star into a one-term president.
Although he took pains to protect the health and safety of the press by imposing social distancing at his events, he gave infrequent press conferences and often called on only a few reporters from a pre-determined list.
He capitalized on Democratic urgency to take down Trump, after a strong resistance sprang forth immediately after his defeat of Clinton, as evidenced in a large women’s march around his inauguration.
Biden defied Trump’s own election eve prediction of a ‘blowout win’ and a ‘red wave’ – but ended up giving his supporters heartburn and winning a narrow victory that stopped far short of blowout scenarios that public polls allowed for.
It was not that he didn’t mobilize his supporters: his victory came amid record turnout, and he was on track to surpass Clinton’s 2016 vote total. Trump, however, inspired countering energy and loyalty among his supporters, who turned out to packed rallies even amid the pandemic and got themselves to the polls to vote in person.
Trump had set the table for the contentious aftermath, claiming in advance that the only way he could lose was through ‘massive fraud.’ He laid the groundwork for a tense interregnum when declared hours after the polls closed that he had ‘won,’ then filed suits to stop the count in battlegrounds where he fell behind.
Key to Biden’s effort was restoring the ‘blue wall’ that crumbled in 2016 – with an intensive focus on battleground states in the upper Midwest.
Trump claimed in each of them that he had saved manufacturing, won a trade war with China, and had the nation ’rounding the corner’ on the coronavirus.
Although he traveled dramatically less than Trump, Biden repeatedly popped up in Pennsylvania, and made last-minute trips to Wisconsin and Michigan, making sure not to repeat Hillary Clinton’s of virtually ignoring states that handed Trump his own victory.
Trump labeled him ‘Sleepy Joe,’ in a dig he repeatedly rolled out on Twitter and at campaign rallies. But it lacked the sting of the successful ‘Crooked Hillary’ branding and didn’t up when Biden showed vigor in their debates.
Over the summer, he said he would challenge Trump to a push-up contest if the president went after his mental or physical health.
‘I would say, ”Come on Donald, come on man. How many push-ups do you want to do here, pal?” Jokingly, he said. ”You know, come on, run with me man.”’
Biden has fulfilled his lifelong dream of the presidency, having failed in two other efforts, only to get selected by Barack Obama to serve as his running mate for two terms in the White House
Biden and Obama are known for their close friendship and brotherhood. Biden made maintaining and expanding Obamacare through a ‘public option’ a substantial part of his campaign. Although he stood back from the primary, Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama made impassioned pleas for his election at the Democratic convention
Biden will be the oldest man ever to take office in January. His running mate, Kamala Harris – selected in part to demonstrate Biden’s commitment to heal the ‘soul of the nation’ amid protests about police violence – will be the first female vice president
Biden labeled Trump a ‘bully’ and compared him to people he said he stood up to in his youth. He trudged out well-worn stories familiar to those who follow him closely, and would label attacks he found egregious ‘malarkey.’
It was part of Biden’s pitch and appeal during the Democratic primaries, when voters turned back a large field of younger and talented officials inside and outside of politics and ended up backing the 77-year old former senator who promised to work with Republicans and defeat Trump in his backyard.
And it was Michigan and Wisconsin that ultimately put him on track for the requisite 270 electoral votes needed to defeat Trump.
Biden made peace with his Democratic rivals, consulting Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on policy, negotiating a policy program with Sen. Bernie Sanders, and bringing in Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who papered over disagreements in TV interviews when touting him.
Trump used the alliances against him, telling his own supporters Biden would be controlled by the ‘radical left.’
Trump’s relentless efforts to tie Biden to socialists – an attack Biden tried to refute by telling people to simply look at him and his record – nevertheless may have helped tamp down his support in key battlegrounds.
He sought to hitch himself to still-popular President Barack Obama, who elevated him after a humbling defeat in Iowa in 2008, and who joined him on the stump in the campaign’s final days to lend his star power to some of Biden’s signature car rallies.
Despite his advanced age, Biden sought to project an air of cool to his fans, sporting aviator shades and sharing his love for muscle cars. Trump compiled a blooper real of his occasional gaffes, but 2020 Biden appeared to overcome his reputation for making them, and many voters overlooked the slips amid the dire stakes of the pandemic and economic turmoil.
He made maintaining and expanding Obamacare through a ‘public option’ a substantial part of his campaign. Although he stood back from the primary, Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama made impassioned pleas for his election at the Democratic convention.
A handful of Republicans came out quickly and condemned remarks President Donald Trump said Thursday night from the White House podium, where he alleged a conspiracy of voter fraud that is robbing him from an electoral victory, as Democrat Joe Biden is ahead
Biden benefited from an influential rump group of ‘never Trumpers,’ as well as hundreds of former top military officials, former elected Republicans, and even former Trump administration officials who endorsed him and blasted the current administration and called Trump unfit.
He pledged to govern not on behalf of red or blue America but for the whole country, in an obvious dig at Trump and a hat tip to Obama, who had a similar line.
Dozens of aides to prior Republican presidential nominees also lent their names to efforts to defeat Trump, and Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCain, campaigned with Biden in her home state of Arizona, an electoral battleground that would provide a crucial piece to his winning map.
He will be the oldest man ever to take office in January. His running mate, Kamala Harris – selected in part to demonstrate Biden’s commitment to heal the ‘soul of the nation’ amid protests about police violence – will be the first female vice president.
Biden had pledged in advance to name a female running mate. Helping drive him to victory were demographic shifts since Trump’s stunning 2016 win. Older voters were moving to Biden in preelection polls, drawn to his message of fighting the pandemic and restoring alliances and norms of the office.
He built up support among women voters and black voters, hoping to improve on Hillary Clinton’s margins. Even before the campaign began, suburban women in particular had moved away from Trump after a contentious tenure featuring investigations, bitter personal attacks, and angry tweets.
A clear shortcoming in Biden’s game plan was in the ability to win over Cuban-Americans and other Latinos in Miami, a factor that helped cost him the prize. But Hispanic voters provided critical support in Nevada and Arizona.
Helping boost his popular vote totals over Hillary Clinton’s 3 million vote margin was a record turnout stretched out over a period of weeks. The count was expected to hit 75 million, the most votes in a U.S. election, with record turnout percentage going back more than 100 years.
But while he could claim it for the record books and even cite it as a political tool, it had no effect on the electoral college which delivered a nail-biter.
The race that got Biden to victory was remarkably stable – he never trailed over the course of the year in opinion polls. He was able to remain popular, while Trump never overcame his own underwater approval ratings – after running three and a half years of slash and burn politics, where he regularly called his rivals ‘corrupt’ and ‘criminals,’ and sometimes vowed to prosecute them.
Although he didn’t huddle in his basement to the extent of Trump’s caricature, he stayed close to home and did satellite interviews amid the pandemic.
Some of the most intense drama came as the votes came in, with Trump’s ability to turn out his own supporters providing a rebuke to political journalists. Trump vowed to restore the economy and claimed the nation was ’rounding the corner’ on the coronavirus.
Biden widened his polling lead during a contentious first debate where Trump repeatedly interrupted him, but managed to put away doubts Trump raised with repeated claims he had ‘lost it.’ The Commission on Presidential Debates changed the rules of the debate to include muting in order to prevent cross-talk and interruptions that plagued the first
Biden inherits a divided country with deep splits over taxes, spending, the courts – and such basic issues as whether government should require people to wear a mask to fight the coronavirus
Biden widened his polling lead during a contentious first debate where Trump repeatedly interrupted him, but managed to put away doubts Trump raised with repeated claims he had ‘lost it.’
There WILL be a recount in Georgia because the margin is still so small
Georgia’s Secretary of State on Friday said there will be a recount there no matter what the outcome is because the margin is so tight.
There are still 5,500 votes outstanding in Georgia and 8,000 mail-ins. Of the 5million that have already been counted, Trump and Biden are neck-and-neck with 49.4% of the vote each.
Biden has a small lead of just 4,000 votes.
Whatever happens now, it will be too close a race for there not to be an automatic recount, Brad Raffensperger said at a press conference Friday.
As of 10am, there were a little under 5,500 votes to be counted.
‘There are 8.890 military ballots outstanding that will be counted if they are returned by the close of business today.
‘Right now Georgia remains too close to call. We’ll have a margin of a few thousand.
‘The focus of our office for now remains on making sure that every legal vote is counted accurately.
‘We can begin to look towards our next steps.
‘With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia,’ he said.
Georgia carries 16 electoral college votes.
Their planned second debate never happened after Trump got the coronavirus and a commission tried to switch it to a video format.
After Trump balked, Biden scheduled a town hall-style interview instead. Trump tried to level new corruption attacks on Biden in the third debate after the New York Post reported on son Hunter Biden’s business efforts in China, with information provided by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
But it never stuck as a top issue, and although Trump brought up Hunter’s ‘laptop from hell’ at his closing campaign rallies, it didn’t appear to move the needle in public polls.
Trump’s repeated claims that Biden and Obama ‘spied on my campaign’ also did not appear to make a difference, with the president spending some of his final hours of the race venting about Robert Mueller and ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ but Biden only bringing up impeachment and 2016 Russian election interference occasionally.
It was nevertheless an extraordinary sign of the race that Trump called for jailing his 2016 rival, his predecessor, and his 2020 opponent.
Amid the coarse rhetoric, voters repeatedly registered the coronavirus as their top issue, and as election day approached U.S. infections continued to rise – with a record 99,321 cases the Friday before Election Day. Trump made the odd decision to attack infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most popular figures in the country, in the final days of the campaign.
Trump was able to maintain an edge in pre-election polling on the economy, after U.S. markets and hiring snapped back after steep drops in the second quarter. He hyped a promising third quarter figure and got one, but the data didn’t stop a market slide or bump the virus off the front pages.
Even with major gains from prior months, the president still faced reelection at a time when tens of millions were filing for unemployment.
And although Trump was able to secure trillions from Congress to prop up the economy, negotiations between his administration and congressional Democrats stalled on the latest installment of a relief package, depriving him of a final round of checks to put in the hands of struggling Americans.
Biden inherits a divided country with deep splits over taxes, spending, the courts – and such basic issues as whether government should require people to wear a mask to fight the coronavirus.
With the coronavirus and the impact on the economy dominating voters’ minds, Biden never had to run the campaign some Democrats were salivating for with a focus on Trump’s business, appointment of family members, and retelling the story of the failed impeachment.
He was aided by late disclosures by the New York Times, who managed to obtain Trump tax returns that the president said he would release in 2016 and never did. One powerful talking point that made it into both debates: Trump had paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016.
Issues that hurt him in the primary, including a history of handsy contacts with women who said it made them uncomfortable and statements about working even with segregationists in the Senate to get things done, never resurfaced as a major factor in the general election.
Biden is confronted with a $20 trillion debt, a stalled coronavirus relief bill, a raging virus that has infected 9 million Americans and counting, a country that has seen street violence and protests over police shootings of unarmed black people, and an unpredictable incumbent with a mass following with no love lost for the ‘deep state’ he is leaving behind.
The legal devices being used by Republicans to challenge election results
Michigan – stop votes being counted and review ballots
Called for Biden with 99 per cent of ballots counted
Donald Trump yesterday filed a lawsuit in the battleground state of Michigan seeking to halt vote-counting and review counted ballots.
Campaign manager Bill Stepien said Republicans had not been given ‘meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process’.
He claims this violates state law.
Georgia – secure and account for late mail-in ballots
Too early to call. Trump ahead by 0.5 points with 98 per cent of ballots counted
President Trump and the Georgia Republican Party have filed a lawsuit against election officials in Chatham County, asking a judge to order all late ballots be secured and accounted for.
It was filed after a Republican observer claims to have witnessed mail-in ballots which arrived after the 7pm deadline added to a pile of lawful votes to be counted.
Sean Pumphry, a registered GOP poll-watcher, said he saw 53 unprocessed ballots added to processed ones.
Wisconsin – recount the ballots
Called for Biden with 99 per cent of ballots counted
The Trump campaign last night announced it would demand a recount of ballots in Wisconsin after an ultra-tight race.
Biden only edged a victory in the state, leading Trump by just 0.53 per cent of the vote.
Wisconsin state law allows campaigns to pay for a recount if the margin of defeat is less than 1 per cent.
Pennsylvania – multiple legal challenges
Won’t know until Friday. Biden ahead by three points with 89 per cent of ballots counted
The Trump campaign yesterday said it will wade into a case currently before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, over whether late mail-in ballots can be counted.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar ruled ballots that arrived up to three days late could be counted, which is currently being challenged by state Republicans.
Trump’s lawyers now plan to ‘intervene’ in this case.
Stop counting until transparency guarantees
Like in Georgia, he also said Trump would be suing to stop ‘Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing’ from GOP poll-watchers.
He claimed that Republican observers in Philadelphia were ordered to stand 25 metres away from counting staff, making it impossible to watch.
And like in Michigan, the Trump campaign is suing to halt vote counting until ‘meaningful transparency’ is guaranteed.
Voter ID challenge
Trump has accused Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar of unilaterally extending the deadline by which mail-in voters whose voter ID was missing to provide proof.
Under state law, first-time mail-in and absentee voters must provide identification.
Supreme Court orders all late mail-in ballots to be counted separately in Pennsylvania as Biden extends his lead to more than 28,000 as he edges to victory
Joe Biden has taken the lead in the key state of Pennsylvania with 28,877 votes.
Biden is now ahead with 49.6% of the votes compared to Trump’s 49.2%.
There are about 89,000 ballots still to count.
If Biden holds on to his lead here then he will be the 46th President of the United States – even if he loses every other state that is still in contention.
He currently has 253 electoral votes, compared to Trump’s 213, meaning he can win the presidency in one of two ways.
If he wins Pennsylvania, he gains 20 votes and no longer needs either Arizona or Nevada. But if he wins Arizona – which has 11 electoral college votes – and Nevada – which has 6 – he no longer needs Pennsylvania.
Trump, who held a 675,000-vote lead early Wednesday, prematurely declared victory in the state on election night, only to see his lead evaporate in the coming days. By early Friday, Trump’s lead had slipped to about 18,229 votes before the state flipped blue later in the morning.
One reason for the tightening race is that under state law, elections officials are not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day.
It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favor after Trump spent months claiming — without proof — that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.
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If Biden holds on to his lead here then he will be the 46th President of the United States, even if he loses every other state that is still in contention.
Trump cannot win on Pennsylvania alone; with 214 electoral college votes, he’d still need to pick up either Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona or Nevada – the four other states where a result is yet to be officially confirmed.
Results are expected to be in for Pennsylvania by Friday.
If there is less than a half percentage point difference between Biden and Trump’s vote total, state law dictates that a recount must be held.
Meanwhile, Trump sued Pennsylvania to undermine whatever election result is returned.
Voting was temporarily halted in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on Thursday as a result of the legal row. A judge intervened and dismissed the federal motion.
The Trump campaign had a brief legal victory in Pennsylvania on Thursday when a judge ruled ballot observers can watch officials count ballots within six feet. Representatives of both campaigns were in the room to watch the counts but at a further distance because of the coronavirus. A county judge agreed with the Trump campaign but the state Supreme Court rejected it.
The situation in Pittsburgh is complicated by about 30,000 outstanding ballots, where a vendor sent the wrong ballots to voters and had to reissue new ballots with the correct races.
Poll workers now have to examine these ballots to make sure that people don’t vote twice, or, if they sent in the wrong ballot, they didn’t vote in races they aren’t eligible for.
They cannot legally be counted until Friday when Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh sits, swears in a special board to examine these ballots, as required by law.
Biden’s lead in Arizona shrinks to 20,000 as Trump claws back some of the vote
Joe Biden’s lead in Arizona has fallen below 20,000.
Biden currently remains ahead by 20, 573, votes, with a 49.5% hold of the total vote, compared to Trump’s 48.9%.
Biden is leading in every other state. He is likely to be called the winner there soon with the remaining votes coming from Allegheny County, which includes Democratic strongholds of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he no longer needs any of the other states to claim the 270 electoral college votes he needs to claim the White House. If Trump wins Arizona, he still needs every other state in play which seems increasingly unlikely.
In Georgia, a recount has been called because the margin is so thin.
Arizona has a long political history of voting Republican. It’s the home state of Barry Goldwater, a five-term, conservative senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1964.
John McCain, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, represented the state in Congress from 1983 until his 2018 death.
But changing demographics, including a fast-growing Latino population and a boom of new residents – some fleeing the skyrocketing cost of living in neighboring California – have made the state friendlier to Democrats.
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Arizona has a long political history of voting Republican. It’s the home state of Barry Goldwater, a five-term, conservative senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1964.
John McCain, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, represented the state in Congress from 1983 until his 2018 death.
But changing demographics, including a fast-growing Latino population and a boom of new residents – some fleeing the skyrocketing cost of living in neighboring California – have made the state friendlier to Democrats.
About 100 Trump supporters gathered again in front of the Maricopa County election center in Phoenix, Thursday night, with some carrying military-style rifles and handguns. Arizona law allows people to openly carry guns.
Authorities at the center used fences to create a ‘freedom of speech zone’ and keep the entrance to the building open. The crowd took turns chanting – ‘Count the votes!’ and ‘Four more years!’ – and complaining through a megaphone about the voting process.
They paused to listen as Trump spoke from the White House, where he repeated many of his groundless assertions of a rigged vote.
They whooped and clapped when the president said, ‘We’re on track to win Arizona.’
It comes after the AP and and Fox News had both called Arizona early on Wednesday morning, claiming there was no possible way for Trump to claw it back from him – a move which was later called into question.
Arizona holds 11 crucial electoral college votes which, when giving them to Biden now, poises him for the White House with 264 of the 270 that he needs.
Biden’s lead in Nevada grows again to 22,000
Joe Biden’s lead in Nevada has grown to more than 22,000 as the ballot count there drags on with at least another 124,000 votes left to count.
With more than 1.2million ballots counted, Biden held a 22,657 vote lead Friday evening – a roughly 1.79 percentage point edge over Trump.
But even after about 93% of the estimated vote had been tallied, an estimated 124,500 votes remain, which could eat into Biden’s advantage.
Of those outstanding, 58,000 are mail ballots and 66,500 voter registration ballots, according to the secretary of state’s office.
As it stands, Biden remains ahead with 49.8% of the vote in the state over Trump’s 48%.
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Election officials in the state said they would release more results Saturday at noon EST.
Why it is taking them so long to get through the remainder remains largely unanswered.
One of the only reasons they’ve given is that they don’t know how many mail-in ballots they will receive through the weekend but they won’t say when they are going to stop accepting them.
If Biden wins Nevada and its 6 electoral college points, as well as Arizona, he will have won the election. He doesn’t, however, need it to claim victory.
Any ballot that was posted by November 3 will be counted if it arrives by November 10 – Tuesday – at 5pm. The majority of the ballots are coming from Clark County, where Las Vegas is.
Biden is also leading in Pennsylvania, which carries 20 electoral college votes and would land him the White House. A result is expected there at some point on Friday.
A recount has been called in Georgia – where Biden leads but only by just over 4,300 votes – and in Arizona, where he leads by just over 29,000. His lead in Arizona is shrinking.
Arizona was called for him on Wednesday morning by Fox and the AP but with 250,000 votes still outstanding, it remains in play for Trump. If Biden loses Arizona, he has 259 electoral college votes. He’d need another 11 from either Georgia – which holds 16 – North Carolina – which holds 15 – or Pennsylvania – which holds 20 – to win.
It’s unclear when North Carolina will announce, but it is expected to go to Trump as it did in 2016.
Trump’s team is crying fraud and they say they have ‘evidence’ that ‘tens of thousands of votes’ had been cast there fraudulently.
Nevada law states that to be eligible to vote, a person has to have been a resident of the state for at least 30 days before the election.
That does not necessarily mean that they have to have been physically in the state for the 30 days preceding the election.
Trump’s people also claim that many of the votes in Nevada came from people who no longer live there, or were cast under the names of deceased people.
Georgia race heads towards a recount as Biden’s lead in the state jumps to 7,248, with 99% of votes cast counted
Joe Biden’s lead in Georgia continued to expand early Saturday – but still not enough to call the extremely tight race that will likely have to be recounted.
Biden overtook Trump in the tally early Saturday morning and now remains ahead by just 7,248 votes, with nearly five million ballots cast statewide. He holds 49.4% of the state total, compared to Trump’s 49.3% – a lead of about 0.1 percentage points.
Georgia holds 16 electoral college votes. If Biden were to win it, he would only need to hold his lead in one of the other three states still at play; Arizona, Nevada or Pennsylvania.
A candidate can request a recount in Georgia if the margin is less than 0.5%. Right now, it is well below that threshold. It is unclear now how many more votes there are to count in total in Georgia, however there are still 1,500 to count in Gwinnett County.
Earlier in the day, election officials said they still had 5,500 mail-in ballots to count, plus as many as 8,000 that could come from overseas military personnel.
Georgia‘s Secretary of State on Friday said there will be a recount there no matter what the outcome is because the margin is so tight.
If there is a recount, it will not delay the election result if Biden wins Pennsylvania, which he is poised for after taking the lead from Trump. That result is expected by the end of the day. He can also still win before a Georgia recount if he wins Nevada and Arizona, where he also holds leads.
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The state’s Voting System Implementation Manager, Gabriel Sterling, explained on Friday afternoon why it was taking so long.
‘The outstanding ballots are about the same as they are this morning. We will start with the margin. We’re looking at a margin of 1,585. That’s where we stand right now,’ he said.
‘We do know that today is the today for the military and overseas deadline. In the overall side, we have 18,008 that have already been accepted and 8,410 that are still available to be received.
‘That doesn’t mean there’s a bucket ready to be counted; that means there are that many that can be received today. It’s going to be more than zero and less than 8,410 – somewhere in that range. We don’t know exactly how many.’
Georgia carries 16 electoral college votes. If Biden claims it today along with any other state, he will win the Presidency.
Trump would have to win every state left on the field to get a second term and Biden is leading everywhere.
Biden took a crucial lead in Pennsylvania on Friday morning. If he wins the state today, he will have won the White House.
Trump, however, is refusing to accept the result and is claiming election fraud all-round.
In one Georgia county, there was a corrupt memory card on one scanner which meant 400 had to be recounted.
Officials in some counties are also using paper ballots for the first time in 20 years because they voted earlier this year that machine voting was not secretive enough. They are then scanning all of the paper votes which is an ‘arduous’ process.
Speaking earlier on Thursday, Georgia’s Voting System Implementation Manager, Gabriel Sterling, said there was nothing suspicious or strange about the process, but that elections were never normally so close so it doesn’t always have to come down to an official count.
‘We can’t know how long the process will take. We hope to have clarity but “done” is a very relative term at this point.
‘As we’ve been stating for weeks and months, it’s going to take time. The effort here is to make sure everybody’s legal vote is counted properly.
‘The issue we have in Georgia is it’s a close vote. There’s other states that have more votes to count than we do but it’s a wide margin so nobody cares,’ Sterling said.
75 days of chaos and denial: How Donald Trump can keep fighting his defeat until Joe Biden is sworn in – and even then how does he get removed from the White House?
Joe Biden seizing the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia provides a strong indication of who will prevail in the Electoral College and ultimately be elected president – but little clarity about how the chaotic next 75 days will unfold.
That will be determined by a swirling mix of factors that include patchwork state and federal laws, the Constitution and its procedures, power-brokers in the Republicans Party angling for dominance, the courts – and a furious President Trump coping with rage and loss.
REFUSING TO CONCEDE – SO WHEN WILL THE REPUBLICANS TELL HIM TO GO?
President Trump has made clear in public statements he has no intention of conceding and bowing to the vote counts in Pennsylvania that include mail-in ballots. (States Trump won also include mail-in ballots, which are being tabulated to this day).
There have been cracks among Republicans about Trump’s initial posture of claiming he ‘won’ and fighting a vast war of litigation. So far, there have been restrained rebukes from retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, former Sen. Rick Santorum, both of Pennsylvania, and an assertion by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that expressed faith in the vote and backed up Trump’s right to sue.
‘Every legal vote should be counted. Any illegally-submitted ballots must not,’ McConnell tweeted Friday.
The president’s family has provided vocal defense, and son Donald Trump Jr. turned up the heat on leading Republicans to demand they step up more – a reminder of the potential political cost among Trump’s base of sitting on the sidelines.
House and Senate Republicans had a much better election than many of them expected, in part by executing a strategy of tolerating Trump’s outbursts and avoiding direct confrontation with him. Public condemnation of Trump’s false claim that he won would be a new tack.
Many senior retired military figures of public renown already distanced themselves from Trump.
The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, a White House advisor, could weigh in. Like other Trump children, she has both a family and political stake in what happens, as well as a financial one.
‘Every legally cast vote should be counted. Every illegally cast vote should not. This should not be controversial.
‘This is not a partisan statement — free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy,’ she tweeted Friday.
Trump claimed the election was ‘rigged’ and said falsely that he won states like Michigan that he didn’t carry
Trump spent election night huddling with former campaign managers Kellyanne Conway and Corey Lewandowski, as well as former press secretary Sarah Sanders, who all will play a role helping him steer through the next few months.
‘He’s not blind to the reality of what the results are and he’s going to be talking to his lawyers and he’s going to be pretty frank with them,’ Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a Mar-a-Lago member who talks to Trump, told DailyMail.com.
He said he thinks Trump has a strong legal case in his election suits. Asked who might bring bad news to Trump if he didn’t prevail, Ruddy responded: ‘He has a history of taking his own counsel. I think he’ll do his decision on that based on that.’
As Trump gets counsel from his inner circle, the relentless process of election counting and certification will continue.
There are key dates beyond Election Day on the political calendar that provide at least a framework of what will happen.
Each state has its own deadline for counting and then certifying votes. In Georgia, which currently has a razor-thin Biden lead, the secretary of state certifies the vote to the governor on November 20. In Pennsylvania, county boards of election must file returns with the commonwealth by November 23.
Officials in North Carolina are anticipating a recount after November 20, a process that itself could take another week .
Dec. 8 is the statutory deadline for resolving election disputes, and the end of so-called safe harbor.
As days go forward and votes come in, the networks will end up calling more races, which presumably would grow Biden’s electoral vote total.
By that point race that looked closely divided on election night will start looking less close. Biden could even win as many as 306 electoral votes – the same Trump 2016 margin that Trump frequently casts as a blowout. Meanwhile, his popular vote margin will fill in, allowing Biden to continue to boast he won more votes than any other candidate in history.
The stronger Biden’s lead grows, the greater the potential political price for some of the more extreme measures in Trump’s toolkit – namely an idea floated before the election for the state legislature in Pennsylvania to ignore the voters and submit its own slate of electors.
Trump Jr. retweeted talk radio host Mark Levin when he issued a ‘REMINDER TO THE REPUBLICAN STATE LEGISLATURES, YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY OVER THE CHOOSING OF THE ELECTORS … SO GET READY TO DO YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY.’ But it was an idea immediately shot down by the Republican Pennsylvania Senate majority leader.
His father followed up Friday morning seeking to rally allies to his cause: ‘With the attack by the Radical Left Dems on the Republican Senate, the Presidency becomes even more important!’ he tweeted.
BIDEN BECOMES PRESIDENTIAL AND UNVEILS HIS CABINET AND HIS CORONA PLAN
WHO COULD TELL TRUMP TO GO?
First Daughter is his favorite child but her tweet that ‘every legal vote should be counted’ and her daughter flashing a v-for-victory sign suggests she is not wanting to concede yet
Trump is known to listen to his wife’s advice but nobody knows what her state of mind is. Previous leaked tapes and her campaign appearances suggest their views are more in line than people had once thought
GEORGE W. BUSH
Only living former Republican president but Trump is known to despise him and even attacked his father George H.W. Bush before his death. Country would listen but would Trump?
There are only two living Republicans who ran for president and failed and one is Mitt Romney. The other is 97-year-old Bob Dole who endorsed Trump and has spoken up for him repeatedly since. He may be the only establishment Republican who could break through to Trump
The ‘grim reaper’ is the most senior elected Republican. If he sees Trump killing hopes of his party keeping the Senate in the Georgia run offs he could bring his scythe to the Oval. But he and Trump are not personally close
Vice president could turn as his own political prospects fade. So far he has appeared loyal but carefully nuanced his language so he does not repeat the most absurd conspiracy claims
FOX NEWS AND RUPERT MURDOCH
Trump’s rise was fueled by Fox’s stars – Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Fox & Friends – so if they start publicly telling him it’s over it might be impossible to ignore. If Rupert Murdoch directly intervenes he might bow to the inevitable
THE TRUMP WHISPERERS
Aides Hope Hicks and Dan Scavino are close to ‘family,’ and Kayleigh McEnany and former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders are almost in that category. If they tell him time is up, it might persuade him
Richard Nixon was told to quit by his cabinet. Trump’s is stuffed with loyalists but if Mike Pompeo were to turn as he watches his own 2024 prospects evaporate and another loyalist such as AG Bill Barr speaks out, he may have to listen
THE MANHATTAN FRIENDS
Trump’s real friends have included real estate moguls Howard Lorber and Richard LeFrak and investor Tom Barrack. He is known to listen to them even if they have fallen out previously. Their advice to leave could be influential
THE MAR-A-LAGO CROWD
His Florida club’s members are important to him. Newsmax’s Chris Ruddy may provide him with an immediate TV platform. Billionaire Ike Perlmutter, the Marvel chairman, may want to invest. The Palm Beach delegation could put together an attractive exit package
JOHN ROBERTS AND SCOTUS
The Chief Justice cannot speak directly to Trump but if the Supreme Court simply refuses to hear his campaign’s challenges to the election, it might be enough to end Trump’s quest to stay in the West Wing
Biden will create more inexorable motion by behaving more and more like the duly elected nominee – as he did with a Thursday speech where he began talking about a briefing he received on the coronavirus. The more he talks about his agenda, his cabinet, and his team, the more he will take on the aura of the next president.
The Secret Service dispatching additional agents to protect him is just one of many moves that will pump him up. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the first top official Friday to call him ‘president-elect.’
Trump can seek to counter this with his own actions, but presidents have always had the right to continue actions during a presidential transition.
Biden’s campaign trolled President Trump as it became increasingly clear that the Democratic nominee would be the next president of the United States.
‘As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfect capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House,’ Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday.
Any moves by Biden to look ‘presidential’ could force disconnect if Trump directs most of his comments to his increasingly desperate legal strategy and grievances about the vote count.
That is a disadvantage that always accrues to the challenger in a recount or disputed election election situation, even when there is a legitimate challenge. Trump already had to field a question about whether he was a ‘sore loser’ during his angry statement to the press Thursday evening.
A big unknown before the election was whether protests or street violence would play a role in voting. They didn’t. But mass demonstrations could impact the count, or even serve to spoil ballots in an extreme situation. The 2000 ‘Brooks Brothers riot’ helped stop the count in Florida.
There were already protests outside counting facilities in Detroit and Arizona. If Trump and Biden supporters believe they are being mistreated and take the streets, it could lead to chaotic scenes, which Trump could seek to add to his narrative about the prolonged count.
Still absent since the election is any signal from Attorney General Bill Barr about whether he has seen evidence to back up Trump’s claims of fraud.
COURT OPTIONS RUN OUT AND THE WALLS CLOSE IN
The legal battles will run their course over fall and winter, but ultimately will run into hard deadlines set by the law and the Constitution.
Recounts will slow but not stop the process. A recount Trump’s campaign says it will demand in Wisconsin must be paid for by the campaign – to the tune of an estimated $3 million.
The RNC is now looking to raise $60 million to fight for Trump in court, an effort which will be led not by a James Baker figure, but by David Bossie, an off-again on-again member of Trump’s inner circle, once cast out over claims he was profiting from the president’s name, but now reconciled.
Trump’s team has already moved to try to get the Supreme Court to revisit a decision about Pennsylvania accepting ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 after that date.
But depending on the size of Biden’s lead, they may not even make the difference in the race.
The court, which now holds a 6-3 conservative majority thanks to Trump’s pre-election bush to get Amy Coney Barrett on the court, traditionally defers to states on setting their own election laws.
Trump’s campaign has been blasting out email appeals for his election defense, promising a 1000 per cent match to ‘FIGHT BACK!’
The costs of battling in every venue with complex litigation will add up.
Meanwhile, Trump’s legal woes on another front will not subside.
Authorities in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office have been investigating Trump’s financials and whether he violated tax laws by overstating the value of assets, misleading lenders, or took tax deductions worth millions that he wasn’t entitled to.
Trump’s son Eric gave a deposition just days before Election Day, and the New York Times has reported numerous disclosures from Trump tax returns it obtained, including that he paid only $750 in individual income taxes in 2016.
Trump first fought off handing over his tax returns by claiming he was immune as president from investigation, a tack which failed 7-2 at the Supreme Court. He is trying to get the case back to the high court claiming he is the victim of a fishing trip.
He is also being sued for libel by E. Jean Carroll, who accuses him of rape, and an attempt by AG Bill Barr to take over that case failed.
And there are questions over whether the Manhattan DA’s federal counterparts, the fiercely-independent U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York are looking at people around Trump, having already indicted Steve Bannon and Rudy Guliani’s business partner.
Complex legal questions about whether a president can pardon himself are sure to emerge as Trump’s final days approach.
Trump could also seek to issue blanket federal pardons to those around him who could face prosecution, as he did when he commuted Roger Stone’s sentence when the longtime advisor was on the verge of heading to jail.
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, with Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski (C R), speaks outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on November 5, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Trump’s lawyers are suing in multiple venues
WILL THE ULTRA-LOYAL FOX NEWS STARS DESERT HIM?
Trump knows he is facing not just a legal fight but a media war. His early morning Election Day call in to Fox News included repeated attacks on the network.
The channel’s polling unit infuriated him when it called Arizona with substantial vote still out, although Biden still was leading in the state Friday.
So furious was Trump, Vanity Fair reported, that he pleaded directly with Rupert Murdoch to reverse the call – which the Australian billionaire refused to do.
Fox evening anchors have continued to note that Trump has not yet provided evidence of his claims of fraud, including a campaign charge that 10,000 Nevada voters weren’t registered to vote in the state and voted fraudulently.
The network showed Biden’s leads in blue in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania on its ticker Friday, with Trump leading only in North Carolina, shown in red.
Anchor Bret Baier continued Friday to refer to Trump’s charges as ‘accusations of irregularities.’
‘We are not seeing any evidence of widespread voter fraud,’ he told Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.
Cohost Martha McCallum said ‘transparency and watching ballots is different than finding fraud…we just haven’t seen it.’
‘Biden Leads in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada,’ said a Fox News Alert headline Friday.
But so far Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and ‘judge’ Jeanine Pirro remain in the fold.
Trump has previously listened to Carlson’s advice not to bomb Iran and to take COVID more seriously, so if he or another one were to split, it would also begin to fracture Trump’s supporter base between their TV network and their president.
DECEMBER 8: THE ‘SAFE HARBOR’ DEADLINE WHICH SUNK AL GORE
No matter how much Trump litigates, a fixed deadline known as the ‘safe harbor’ deadline will be bearing down on him.
This year, it occurs Dec. 8.
The deadline, fixed in in federal law, states that if elections are contested and a state has followed its procedures to determine results by the deadline – six days before the Electoral College meets – that the results are considered final.
The Supreme Court issued its Bush v. Gore decision on December 12, when the deadline occurred in 2000, on the day of the deadline.
It effectively froze the election in place, since the decision sent the case back to Florida for further action but there was no time to take it.
Florida’s then-secretary of state Katherine Harris had already certified the state’s electors for George W. Bush. Democrat Al Gore conceded the following day.
CAN TRUMP CAUSE CHAOS AT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE ON DECEMBER 14?
States meet separately so that their electors can vote.
This is when states where Republicans hold the levers of power can seek to overturn the vote count in states that went for Biden on the grounds that the vote has been ‘corrupted.’
Pennsylvania GOP leaders signaling they will seat the electors chosen by the people would seem to take away one scenario – having a Republican legislature supplant the choice for Biden with their own determination.
But the move can’t be considered dead until the date passes.
After Mark Levin’s tweet that got promoted by Donald Trump Jr. on state legislatures having the ‘final say,’ Trump loyalist Sen. Lindsey Graham told Trump ally Sean Hannity on Fox News: ‘Everything should be on the table.’
No state legislature has taken such a move since the 19th century. The law limits the opportunity to act to instances where the voters ‘failed to make a choice.’
It was discussed in Florida before the Bush v. Gore ruling but no serious Republican figure endorsed it at the time.
Such a move would certainly invite its won court challenge.
If it happened in states where the race ultimately gets called for Biden, like Georgia, Wisconsin, or Arizona assuming that happened, states would send two rival sets of electors to the Congress.
This could set in motion political mayhem when Congress meets.
JANUARY 5: REPUBLICANS MUST WIN GEORGIA SENATE RUNOFFS AND TRUMP COULD DRAG THEM DOWN
Two Georgia runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate throw more uncertainty into the balance of power.
It puts tremendous power into the hands of Georgia voters, and sets up a high-octane political battle with massive fundraising certain to follow.
The race could provide an incentive for Republicans to avoid overturning the will of the voters, out of concern they would pay a price at the polls in a live election environment.
THE NEXT DEADLINE: CONGRESS CERTIFIES THE VOTE – ANOTHER CHANCE FOR DISRUPTION ON JANUARY 6 OR WORSE A REAL CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
Congress meets in a Joint Session January 6 to count the electoral votes, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding.
When the Electoral College meets in person on December 14, fixed in law as the Monday after the second Wednesday in December, Congress gets to have its say.
This is where there could have been a real fight in the event of a 269 to 269 Electoral College tie, which seems to have been avoided.
When states present their electors, there is an opportunity for lawmakers to register an objection.
Such a move seems at least possible, given the loyalty Trump has seen among both House and Senate Republicans, and how GOP senators have backed his legal challenges to date.
A Republican who objects to a state’s vote might earn chits with Trump, who found eager defenders in the Capitol during the Mueller probe and impeachment.
The joint session of Congress would then be briefly suspended so that each chamber could vote on whether to accept the objecting.
However it would have to be agreed to by both houses to take affect – giving the Democratic-controlled House the ability to block GOP efforts to overturn state electors.
The most daunting scenarios would come if the split houses seek to approve different sets of electors.
Clearly if Democrats win in Georgia the day before that is moot – but if they do not, Mitch McConnell could force through his own slate of electors who vote for Trump.
If that happens, Biden and Trump could each claim to have secured the presidency, in a dark scenario laid out in the Washington Post, with unknown results.
There is no playbook after that, and no law to turn to for an answer.
Far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones rallies the crowd of Trump supporters who have been protesting in the parking lot at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center as ballots continue to be counted inside the building on November 5, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. Protests are likely to continue as Trump wages legal warfare
LAST DAYS IN THE BUNKER AS NATION MOVES ON – SO WILL HE ORGANIZE A MASSACRE OF HIS ENEMIES AS THE INAUGURAL STAGE GOES UP?
The final days of an outgoing Trump Administration have long loomed as a question mark.
Trump’s advisors sent one signal by publishing a new FDA regulation the day after the election that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted Friday. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said his panel would keep acting on Trump judges.
Even in the days leading up to the campaign the administration put out new regulations on gray wolves and lifting federal protections on Alaska forests
Trump has already indicated he may seek to make personnel changes in the final days.
He has hinted at firing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, although Fauci does not report directly to him.
He also has grumbled about FBI Director Chris Wray, the subject of attacks by former advisor Steve Bannon and others.
Trump has also indicated dissatisfaction with Attorney General Bill Barr, who has been quiet since the elections. A broader purge of the bureaucracy is possible.
The danger for Trump is making more enemies who might have information they can use against him.
There were reports Friday that demoted campaign manager Brad Parscale is shopping a book, and Trump has had to endure a series of tell-all books from angry former aides, including some who signed non-disclosure agreements.
President Donald Trump declared that he ‘won’ the election, but now faces increasingly daunting electoral math, setting up a chaotic 75 days before the likely end of his term in office
When the NDAs are with Trump – not the government – courts have held, they cannot stop a publisher from publishing but would allow Trump to sue afterwards, creating a potential First Amendment clash.
NDAs with the government may be easier to enforce, but there has been no litigation to suggest exactly how federal judges would land on a government official writing a book exposing a president’s potential wrongdoing in breach of an NDA.
Trump also can use the days between now and January 20 to try to install more officials in political and career posts – flipping his complaints about ‘deep state’ careerists on its head and seeking to continue his policies after he leaves.
A signal emerged Wednesday that McConnell might try to hold up Biden cabinet secretaries illustrates how lower level officials could wield influence long after January 20.
Amid the machinations, the state of play of a coronavirus relief package with the potential to benefit millions of Americans remains murky. Both Pelosi and Graham spoke about it as a live item on Friday, but Trump may have less incentive to dedicate billions to state virus relief on his way out of office after claiming the nation was already ’rounding the turn.’
All the while, planning for inauguration proceeds on its own timetable. Capitol employees will secure an area on the East Front, unless there is a radical change due to coronavirus.
Plans will go forward for staples of presidential transitions, which include a capital draped in American flag bunting, a traditional luncheon inside the Capitol, and a program that usually stresses the shared values of the peaceful transfer of power.
As the inauguration approaches, Trump and his team will face continuing questions about whether he’ll show up, as Hillary Clinton did for his inauguration in 2017.
There is also a traditional photo-op at the White House for the outdoing president and the president-elect and a shared limo ride – assuming he goes to the Inauguration.
JANUARY 20: WHAT IF HE WON’T PHYSICALLY LEAVE THE WHITE HOUSE?
Biden during the campaign brushed off questions about a peaceful transfer of power when Trump refused to commit to one. Trump said he would accept the results of a ‘fair’ election – a term he certainly hasn’t used this week.
Biden has held back. ‘We’ll have an election in this country as we always have had, and he’ll leave,’ he said.
There are small steps those around Trump could take to send a message.
Non-political aides control the in-house email system. Career Secret Service agents control the White House admittance system. Military aides who report to senior officers handle the nuclear football,
Democrats have warned about potential document destruction, something that is difficult to achieve in the digital era.
The coming days will reveal which aides stand by Trump’s side to the bitter end.
The final rally tours before the election featured shout-outs to those who have been with Trump from the beginning, like former press aide Hope Hicks, who Trump called on stage.
Sarah Sanders, his vocal defender as press secretary, also took a turn. Longtime aide Dan Scavino accompanied him around the country, and continues to hold access to his Twitter account.
Son-in-law Jared Kushner has been at Trump’s side, even if he was reluctant to dance to YMCA at October rallies. First Lady Melania Trump ended up being a vocal defender, but attended a single campaign rally.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was the only aide with Trump as he made his defiant claim he ‘won’ the election at the White House Thursday.
All those in Trump’s circle will have to consider not only their loyalty to the president and his appreciation for them, but their own legacies and financial future, with Lincoln Project members calling for those who ‘enabled’ Trump to be branded and denied outside work. Alternatively, they could stay close until the end as allies lay plans for a restoration of Trump or an offshoot Trumpist forces in 2024.
The ultimate Biden nightmare is that Trump effectively barricades himself inside the White House while the new president is sworn in.
In that nightmare, Biden rides back to the White House in the Beast and has to decide what to do with his predecessor.
Biden’s campaign mocked the idea Friday, saying: ‘As we said on July 19th, the American people will decide this election.
‘And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.’
That is true – the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals, and even the U.S. Park Police all report to Biden from midday on January 20. He can simply ask them to escort Trump – and whoever else is with him – out of the White House.
A specific law protects the White House and other ‘restricted’ federal property – and the punishment for breaking it is a maximum of a year in federal prison.
So in that scenario, Trump could be Biden’s guest for a while longer, just not in the White House.
SO COULD HE TAKE A PLEA BARGAIN?
A backdrop for much of Trump’s presidency has been his own potential criminal exposure, amid the Mueller probe, an impeachment, and federal prosecutors in New York combing over his business actions before he became president.
During his House testimony, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen stated that Trump would inflate the value of his business holdings to get loans, while lowballing financial information at tax time.
The New York Times reported on tax return information that Trump engaged in instances of ‘outright fraud’ through tax schemes. Prosecutors in New York have indicated they are investigating Trump for possible bank and insurance fraud. Cohen is serving jail time in part over his role in facilitating hush payments on Trump’s behalf to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump himself was identified as ‘Individual 1’ in court documents pertaining to the case.
With constitutional scholars split on whether Trump could pardon himself to avoid prosecution, a plea bargain remains one possibility. If prosecutors believe they may have difficulty bringing a case against a former president, they may have an incentive to make an accommodation. The situation regarding Trump’s multi-year audit by the IRS remains murky, and it is unclear if the independent agency would even be ready to resolve any outstanding matters before the president leaves office.
Trump may have an incentive to put his legal house in order before Congress finally obtains his returns or potentially obtains government information Democratic lawmakers have been seeking for years without success.
Another unknown is whether Biden, as president-elect, would in any way consider a pardon or another signal of an end to investigations in order to induce Trump to relinquish power. When asked about his posture during the campaign, Biden has said he would leave it to career prosecutors at the Justice Department to decide what to do.
The start of Biden’s Senate career coincided with Gerald Ford’s controversial Nixon pardon, so he is familiar with the partisan fury it created. He also campaigned with a call for reconciliation and a return to bipartisan cooperation, although he must work with a Congress with an energized left and that is filled with members furious at Trump administration stonewalling and what its members say are crimes.
There is yet another opportunity to get his legal exposure wiped clean: get Vice President Mike Pence to do it for him. The strategy was laid out by Michael Cohen – who himself pleaded guilty to crimes – on MSNBC. ‘
‘My theory is that if he loses, there’s still the time between the election and the time that the next president will take office. And during that time my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him,’ Cohen said. ‘It’s a very Nixon type of event.’
AND YES THERE IS A NUCLEAR OPTION: THE 25TH AMENDMENT
Trump cannot retain power as a man alone in the White House.
If he has lost the support of even Mike Pence and his cabinet, there is a chilling possibility: they remove him through the 25th Amendment, finding him unfit to discharge the duties of office.
They would have to use the Section IV powers of the amendment which describes how the president can be removed from office if he is incapacitated and does not leave on his own.
The vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ must write to both the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, saying that ‘the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’
The term principal officers of the executive departments would normally mean the cabinet secretaries.
So at least eight of the president’s 15 most senior Cabinet members together with the vice president must agree that a president should be removed before any plan can move forward.
That group is made up of the Secretary of State, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Interior Secretary, Agriculture Secretary, Commerce Secretary, Labor Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretary, Transportation Secretary, Energy Secretary , Education Secretary, Veterans Affairs Secretary and Homeland Security Secretary.
Notifying the House Speaker – Nancy Pelosi – and the Senate president pro tempore – Republican Chuck Grassley – is the act that immediately elevates the vice president to an ‘acting president’ role.
The deposed president can contest the claim, giving the leaders of the bloodless coup four days to re-assert their claims to the House and Senate.
Congress then has two days to convene – unless it is already in session – and another 21 days to vote on whether the president is incapable of serving. A two-thirds majority in both houses is required to make that determination.
As soon as there is a vote with a two-thirds majority, the president loses his powers and is removed, and the vice president stops acting and is sworn in as president.
But if 21 days of debate and votes ends without a two-thirds majority, the president gets back his powers.
Alternatively, Congress could set up its own mechanism to decide if he is fit for office – maybe a commission, or a joint committee.
Pence would still have to agree with its conclusion and then write formally to the Speaker and president pro tempore.
Pelosi in fact took steps towards that, unveiling in October legislation both House and Senate would need to pass to create a commission made up of former presidents, vice presidents, and other figures including former secretaries of state, attorneys general or surgeons general.
The legislation went nowhere but if Trump was deserted by his party and Pence but not members of his cabinet, it could be rushed through in hours and the commission convened rapidly to force him out.