USA TODAY’s coverage of the 2020 election and President-elect Joe Biden’s transition continues this week as he rolls out more of his picks for top jobs in his administration. With the final vote counts certified, the Electoral College will meet in statehouses across the U.S. Monday where the 538 electors will cast the ballots making Biden’s victory official.
President Donald Trump has cleared the way for Biden’s team to use federal resources and get briefings during the transition, although Trump has yet to formally concede the race.
Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.
Gingrich says ballot dropboxes make it ‘harder for Republicans to win’
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich drew social media backlash Sunday after posting a tweet that criticized Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for facilitating absentee voting during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Why is Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger working so hard to add drop boxes and take other steps to make it harder for Republicans to win?” tweeted Gingrich, who represented Georgia in the House for 20 years. “Is he really that intimidated by Stacey Abrams?”
Several critics jumped on Gingrich’s tweet as an admission that Republicans rely on voter suppression to win elections, as voting rights advocate Abrams has alleged.
“You’re busted Newt,” said former Attorney General Eric Holder. “Guess you think you have to suppress the vote to win. What a disgrace.”
“Hey Newt, why do you think Republicans can’t win if more people vote?” tweeted former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill.
“Newt Gingrich admits that Republicans can’t win unless they suppress votes,” tweeted Walter Shaub, who ran the Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to 2017.
– William Cummings
Biden to address Electoral College results Monday night
President-elect Joe Biden is set to speak about the results of the Electoral College’s vote certification, where statehouses across the country will convene to officially affirm Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump. The speech will take place in Wilmington, Delaware, at 8 p.m. EST.
Though it has historically been a simple matter of process, Electoral College meetings this year gained greater scrutiny as Trump and his allies made repeated attacks on the legitimacy of the election, often spreading misinformation and unfounded conspiracy theories about the election results in the process.
Most Electoral College meetings will begin between noon and 2 p.m. and, are open to the public or streamed online. Though some protests at capitol buildings are likely, the process is likely to be a formality.
Republicans still looking to somehow sabotage Biden’s taking office are now looking to the Jan. 6 official counting of electoral votes during a joint session of Congress.
Biden’s speech will touch on “the electoral college vote certification and the strength and resilience of our democracy,” according to a press release from the transition team.
– Matthew Brown
Poll: Most Americans see election ‘over and settled,’ Republicans remain skeptical
Sixty-two percent of Americans believe that the election is “over and settled” and that it is “time to move on” to other issues, according to a CBS News poll released Sunday.
That majority stands in stark contrast to the 82% of Trump supporters polled who do not see President-elect Joe Biden as the legitimate victor, indicating support for President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him.
Sixty-four percent of the country overall, and 97% of Democrats, believe that the Republicans in Congress should “move on to other matters” compared to 75% of Trump supporters who think Capitol Hill Republicans should “try to keep Trump in power.”
On the question of electoral process, 78% of Republicans believe their vote was counted correctly compared to 88% of the country at large. Ninety-eight percent of Democrats believe their vote was counted correctly. There is no evidence of widespread impropriety in the election results, including the key swing states in which Trump has alleged corruption.
The findings are reflective of a bitterly split nation, divided on basic questions of fact. Eighty-five percent of Trump voters believe that Trump has hard evidence of election fraud, according to the CBS News survey. The president’s legal team has offered no substantial evidence of fraud that has held up under scrutiny in the judicial system, state legislatures or independent investigation.
The caustic partisan dynamics are being distilled in a runoff for both of Georgia’s Senate seats. The Republican-leaning polling firm Trafalgar Group found Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff with a slight 49.1%-48.8% lead over incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler meanwhile has a 50.4%-47.3% lead over her challenger, the Rev. Raphael Warnock.
The CBS News poll surveyed 2,234 registered voters between Dec. 8-11 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.3 points. The Trafalgar Group survey polled 1018 individuals between Dec. 8-10 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.99 points.
– Matthew Brown
Trump vows to veto defense bill but Congress has votes to override
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday morning that he would veto the National Defense Authorization Act, a $741 billion defense package that did not include provisions that Trump wanted.
“THE BIGGEST WINNER OF OUR NEW DEFENSE BILL IS CHINA!. I WILL VETO!,” the president said in a tweet.
The move is unlikely to stop the NDAA from being enacted. The Senate passed the bill 84-13, well past the two-thirds necessary to veto-proof legislation. The House also passed the bill overwhelmingly. The bill is expected to retain veto-proof support in the wake of Trump’s decision.
The president denounced the legislation for not including language that would strip social media companies from the protections they enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Trump also denounced provisions in the bill that would remove the names of Confederate leaders from 10 military installations.
The final version of the bill was opposed by seven Republicans, five Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
In a statement, the White House said the bill “restricts the President’s ability to preserve our Nation’s security by arbitrarily limiting the amount of military construction funds that can be used to respond to a national emergency” and that it “purports to restrict the President’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea” where the U.S. is involved in “forever wars.”
The bill includes also pay raises for troops, as well as paid family leave and increased anti-discrimination protections for federal employees. The final version allocates $2.2 billion for a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative focused on checking China in the Pacific region, as well as a new designated cybersecurity post.
Trump issued his tweet from Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, where he is expected to golf the rest of the day.
– Matthew Brown
Trump says Biden would be ‘illegitimate’ president
President Donald Trump still won’t say whether he will attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Trump said in an interview broadcast Sunday on “Fox & Friends.”
Trump instead focused on his protests against the election in the brief interview taped Saturday in West Point, New York, right before the Army-Navy football game.
While reciting baseless claims of organized voter fraud, Trump suggested that Biden would not be a legitimate president. “I worry about the country having an illegitimate president, that’s what I worry about,” he said.
The president also attacked the Supreme Court and other judges for rejecting his team’s claims of voter fraud. He criticized Attorney General William Barr for not announcing before the election that Biden’s son Hunter is under investigation for tax issues. He protested media coverage of the election.
“It’s not over,” Trump told Fox. “We keep going. And we’re going to continue to go forward.”
Meanwhile, members of the Electoral College meet Monday to certify Biden’s win. Trump told Fox he doesn’t know how that vote will affect his protests.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to speed it up as much as we can.”
“Were this any other human being, it would be incredible,” tweeted attorney George Conway, co-founder of an anti-Trump organization called the Lincoln Project. “But it’s not. It’s classic @realDonaldTrump, the worst narcissistic psychopath the country’s political life has ever seen, but who we’ve gotten to know all too well.”
– David Jackson
American Legion, Pelosi join in call for VA secretary to resign
The American Legion and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to resign Saturday after a department report found the secretary had behaved unprofessionally, though not necessarily improperly, while handling a congressional aide’s allegations of sexual assault at a VA hospital.
Pelosi and the American Legion joined other veterans’ groups in calling for Wilkie’s ouster, including AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Modern Military Association of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The diverse array of groups that have spoken out speak to wide-ranging discontent with news that spans different eras and political leanings within the veteran community.
“The VA Inspector General report makes clear that Secretary Wilkie engaged in an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran. Secretary Wilkie has not only been derelict in his duty to combat sexual harassment, but has been complicit in the continuation of a VA culture that tolerates this epidemic,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign. This case and the misconduct that followed are part of a broader, well-documented crisis of violence against women who serve,” the speaker continued.
Wilkie, who was appointed to the position by President Donald Trump in 2018, only has weeks left in his term before President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate a replacement to oversee the department. The calls, while largely symbolic, are indicative of a wider tone shift in the composition and experiences of service members.
– Matthew Brown
At least two dozen arrests around US amid pro-Trump protests
Washington, D.C., police say they arrested 23 people in connection with violent clashes between Trump supporters who gathered near the White House Saturday to protest President Donald Trump’s election defeat and counter-protesters.
And another person was arrested in Olympia, Washington, following a shooting at demonstrations near the state Capitol that included a group that wanted COVID-19 restrictions lifted, another protesting Trump’s loss in the presidential election last month, and a Black Lives Matter counter-protest.
Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department said the opposing groups were “heavily armed,” including firearms.
“They were fighting amongst themselves, two factions with opposing political beliefs,” Lower said.
Saturday’s rally in Washington’s Freedom Plaza was smaller than a similar election protest that was held on Nov. 14 in the nation’s capital, but it also drew a larger contingent of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group known to incite street violence.
After the rallies ended, downtown Washington quickly devolved into crowds of hundreds of Proud Boys and combined forces of antifa and local Black activists — both sides seeking a confrontation in an area flooded with police officers. As dusk fell, they faced off on opposite sides of a street, with multiple lines of city police and federal Park Police, some in riot gear, keeping them separated.
– William Cummings
Contributing: Joey Garrison, USA TODAY; The Associated Press