USA TODAY’S coverage of the 2020 election continues this week as states prepare to finish certifying their vote counts after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the hard-fought presidential race. President Donald Trump has yet to concede the race as Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris prepare to take office in January.
Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.
President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, according to his spokesman.
“Don tested positive at the start of the week and has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result. He’s been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended COVID-19 guidelines,” his office said in a statement.
Trump Jr. is the latest person close to the president to test positive in recent days. Earlier on Friday, Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew, announced he also tested positive a day after attending a press conference held by his father at the Republican National Committee headquarters.
The White House has struggled to contain at least three outbreaks of coronavirus in recent months. Trump was hospitalized after he tested positive, and several aides have since been infected.
– David Jackson
‘Numbers don’t lie’: Georgia certifies Joe Biden’s victory
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed off Friday on the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory in the state and its 16 electoral votes – making clear he did so because he’s obligated by state law.
“As governor, I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law, and that is what I will continue to do,” Kemp said.
In the face of pressure from President Donald Trump, the Republican governor made the announcement shortly after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the results following a weeklong manual recount. Saying the “numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger said the recount reaffirmed that Biden won Georgia by 12,284 votes over Trump.
The recount, which began last Friday, found uncounted ballots in four rural counties – mostly from memory cards not uploaded – that produced additional gains for Trump. But it wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the race. Biden led by more than 14,000 votes heading into the recount.
Kemp called the errors “unacceptable” and said Georgians “expect better and deserve better.”
“It is quite honestly hard to believe that during the audit thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor-thin presidential election,” he said.
Biden’s victory in Georgia is a major feat for Democrats, who last carried the state in a presidential election in 1992.
Trump’s legal team had demanded that Georgia officials not certify election results as they continue to level baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
Kemp noted the audit only looked at ballots but did not review the signatures on the record number of absentee ballots. Appealing to a demand of the Trump team, Kemp encouraged Raffensberger to “consider addressing these concerns” during a potential second recount.
“It seems simple enough to conduct a sample audit of signatures on the absentee ballot envelopes and compare those to the signatures on application and on file at the secretary of state’s office,” Kemp said.
Hours before, Trump blasted Georgia officials for not reviewing signatures: “Why won’t they do it, and why are they so fast to certify a meaningless tally?” he tweeted.
By state law, Kemp had until 5 p.m. EDT Saturday to formalize the certification.
He said his action “paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options in a separate recount if they choose.”
The Trump campaign is expected to ask for a second recount, which is allowed because the race is decided by less than 0.5%. That recount would be conducted by rescanning all paper ballots.
Raffensperger, a Republican who has faced criticism from his own party amid the tight race, called himself “a proud Trump supporter” in a news conference before certifying the election.
“Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes,” he said. “Close elections sow mistrust. People feel their side was cheated. We saw this from the Democrats in 2018. And we see this from Republicans today.”
But he added: “Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie. As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers we have presented today are correct. The numbers reflect the verdict of the people.”
– Joey Garrison
President Donald Trump on Friday unveiled two rules designed to lower drug prices and again refused to take questions as he continues to contest the election nearly two weeks after Joe Biden was declared president-elect.
One rule aims to limit rebates paid to middlemen in Medicare, the federally managed health care program for older and disabled Americans. The second rule, known as “most-favored nation,” would set Medicare drug prices to lower amounts paid by other nations. Medicare is prohibited from negotiating the prices it pays to drugmakers.
“The patient is going to be getting the benefit instead of these very wealthy individuals,” Trump, joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, told reporters in the White House briefing room.
The announcement, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is part of Trump’s broader campaign pledge to lower drug prices and follows up on executive orders he signed in July and September. The president said the new rules will go into effect on Jan. 1, 19 days before he is set to leave office.
Trump accused pharmaceutical company Pfizer of delaying the release of its preliminary vaccine analysis until after the election as retribution for his aggressive drug pricing proposals. He also accused Big Pharma of running ads against him during the campaign, “which I won by the way,” he again falsely claimed.
President-elect Joe Biden is projected to win 79.6 million votes and 306 electoral votes compared to the 74 million votes and 232 electoral votes for Trump. The General Services Administration has yet to formally recognize the election outcome, preventing the Biden transition team from access to federal agencies, funding and office space.
The president has not taken any questions since Nov. 3.
It’s unclear whether the rules will withstand expected legal challenges from pharmaceutical companies or whether the incoming Biden administration will keep the policies in place.
“The drug companies don’t like me too much but we had to do it,” Trump said. “I just hope they have the courage to keep it.”
– David Jackson and Courtney Subramanian
Biden names 4 White House staffers
President-elect Joe Biden named four more officials Friday to White House posts – including directors overseeing congressional lobbying and personnel – as he prepares to take office Jan. 20.
Louisa Terrell, who served as special assistant for legislative affairs to President Barack Obama and as deputy chief of staff in Biden’s Senate office, was named director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
Cathy Russell, who served eight years in the Obama administration in the White House and at the State Department, was named director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Carlos Elizondo was named White House social secretary and Mala Adiga was named policy director for first lady Jill Biden.
– Bart Jansen
President-elect Joe Biden’s attorney dismissed President Donald Trump’s expected meeting with Republican lawmakers from Michigan on Friday, arguing that any effort to pressure electors to support a candidate who didn’t capture a majority of votes is “doomed to failure.”
“The harm is real. But there is absolutely no chance Donald Trump can be successful in what it is he’s trying to do,” Bauer said. “It cannot be done.”
Republican leaders of the Michigan House and Senate are scheduled to meet with Trump on Friday as the president continues his long-shot bid to retain the presidency by overturning election results in key states such as Michigan.
Trump’s attorneys have pushed a dubious legal strategy of having Republican-controlled state legislatures in states like Michigan that Biden won choose their own slates of Trump electors instead of electors for Biden.
Bauer said such a move would be unconstitutional, arguing state legislatures are obligated to choose electors based on the popular votes in their states and that going against the will of the voters would also violate citizens’ right to vote.
– John Fritze, David Jackson, Courtney Subramanian and Joey Garrison
‘It cannot be done’:Biden lawyer says Michigan electoral plot would be unconstitutional
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., announced Friday he tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing “very mild symptoms.”
“After several negative tests, I learned I was positive for COVID-19 this AM,” Scott said in a tweet, adding that he was “feeling good.”
“I’ll be working from home until it’s safe for me to return to DC,” Scott wrote. “I remind everyone to be careful & do the right things to protect yourselves & others.”
Scott joins a growing list of lawmakers who have contracted the coronavirus, including 87-year-old Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who tested positive for the virus earlier this week.
– William Cummings
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday.
The Democratic congressional leaders will meet with Biden and Harris in Wilmington, Delaware, where the incoming administration has been receiving briefings from transition advisers and making policy pronouncements.
– Sean Rossman
House and Senate Democrats wrote a letter to General Service Administration Administrator Emily Murphy, demanding she personally brief leadership on why the GSA has not started the transition process.
Letters from both Democratic House and Senate members request Murphy brief them by Monday regarding her “ongoing refusal to grant the Biden-Harris Transition Team access” to information, funding and services.
The House letter states they will then determine whether a hearing is necessary.
“Your actions in blocking transition activities required under the law are having grave effects, including undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming Administration’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to address our nation’s dire economic crisis, and endangering our national security,” the House members wrote.
President Donald Trump has yet to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, baselessly claiming the election was stolen.
The GSA has not taken initial steps for transition, and has delayed millions of federal funding dollars and use of resources for the new administration.
The letter from Senate Democrats called the delay “unprecedented.”
“We have been extremely patient, but we can wait no longer,” the House members added. “As GSA Administrator, it is your responsibility to follow the law and assure the safety and well-being of the United States and its people — not to submit to political pressure to violate the law and risk the consequences.”
— Savannah Behrmann
After a weeklong hand recount of Georgia’s presidential election results, the Georgia secretary of state’s office reaffirmed Thursday night that President-elect Joe Biden won the state and its 16 electoral votes.
A “risk-limiting audit” found Biden won Georgia by 12,284 votes, a narrower margin than the 14,196-vote lead he held immediately following the election. Local election administrators identified uncounted ballots in four counties. Each was the result of human error.
“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who ordered the recount, said in a statement. “This is a credit to the hard work of our county and local elections officials who moved quickly to undertake and complete such a momentous task in a short period of time.”
Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992. The state’s 16 electoral college votes represented a larger prize than several other battleground states, such as Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nevada.
The victory gave Biden 306 electoral college votes, 36 more than what is needed to win the White House.
Raffensperger intends to certify its election results Friday by state law, which required an audit be conducted before votes are certified. After certification, the Trump campaign is expected to ask for another recount, which is allowed because the race is decided by less than 0.5%. That recount would be conducted by rescanning all paper ballots.
– Joey Garrison