Trump and Biden pause to mark Veterans Day

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GOP senator says he’ll “step in” to help get Biden intel briefings

Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford says that if Joe Biden doesn’t begin receiving the intelligence briefings that are usually given to the president-elect, he will intervene.

“If that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in as well and to be able to push them and say this needs to occur, so that regardless of the outcome of the election whichever way that it goes, people can be ready for that actual task,” Lankford told radio station KRMG in an interview Thursday.

He pointed out that in 2000 during the Florida recount, President Bill Clinton had given George W. Bush access to the Presidential Daily Brief, the daily top-secret national security summary and analysis prepared by the intelligence community for the president before the presidential race was decided by the Supreme Court.

Lankford said it’s an issue that should be resolved by Friday: “There’s nothing wrong with Vice President Biden getting the briefings to be able to prepare himself…so that he can be ready.”

He also believes that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris should be receiving the intelligence briefings, too, and as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she already has the appropriate clearances to receive the briefings.

At the same time, Lankford believes that President Trump’s campaign should continue to seek answers to the concerns it has about the presidential election.

“It is important for the 71 million-plus people that voted for President Trump that at the end of it, they know all of their questions were answered,” Lankford said, “and that there is a president that was actually duly elected.”

 

When do states certify their election results?

President Trump has not yet conceded the presidential election, even though President-elect Joe Biden is projected to have secured the electoral college votes needed to win the presidency. Most congressional Republicans have been withholding their acknowledgment of Mr. Biden’s victory, too — until the states make it official.

Asked Tuesday by CBS News’ Nancy Cordes if Mr. Biden had won the election, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby replied, “We don’t know yet, do we? It hasn’t been certified.” Kansas Senator Pat Roberts told her, “We’ll know when the electors come to town and states certify the election.”

The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits to try to stop some states won by Joe Biden from certifying their elections, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, alleging that voter fraud has occurred. But the campaign’s efforts on this front have so far been unsuccessful — courts have denied the campaign’s attempts to stop the vote count in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada.

On election night, the results reported are unofficial and must undergo canvassing — that is, ensuring that all the valid votes have been counted. Each state utilizes its own processes to double-check vote totals and make sure that each vote was properly counted. Then, the states certify the votes, which makes those results official; each state also has its own deadline to certify the results. Certification is typically done by a state’s governor, chief election official or board of canvassers.

The states must formally certify their election results on December 8, six days before the Electoral College members meet in their respective states to cast their votes for president.

Several states have already certified their results, while others, like the battleground states of Arizona and Georgia, which have not yet finished reporting unofficial results, will not certify until later this month. Georgia announced Wednesday that it will conduct a manual hand recount of all ballots cast in the presidential race because the margin of Mr. Biden’s lead over the president is so narrow — just 0.3%.

Here’s the rundown on when states will be certifying their election results.

 

Biden names Ron Klain chief of staff

President-elect Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that Ronald Klain will serve as his chief of staff.

Klain, who served as chief of staff to Mr. Biden when he was vice president, as well as to former Vice President Al Gore, is a natural pick for the role. Klain, 59, served as ebola “czar” for the Obama administration, and has been a frequent critic of President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ron has been invaluable to me over the many years that we have worked together, including as we rescued the American economy from one of the worst downturns in our history in 2009 and later overcame a daunting public health emergency in 2014,” Biden said in a statement.

Klain called the selection the “honor of a lifetime,” and said he looks forward to tackling Mr. Biden’s agenda.

Mr. Biden is inheriting an economy that remains badly scarred by the coronavirus, including high unemployment and financial hardship for millions of Americans. The upshot: He has a mountain to climb, especially as COVID-19 cases soar to alarming new heights and with control of the Senate still up in the air.

Here are the major economic challenges facing the Biden administration, along with how the change in the White House might impact everything from jobs and your taxes to health care and climate policy.

 

Mr. Biden’s national popular vote lead has exceeded 5.1 million votes, representing 50.8% of the total, compared to Mr. Trump’s 47.4%. The president-elect has received 77,372,350 votes, compared to the president’s 72,255,311, for a margin of 5,117,039 or 3.4%.

Both candidates have broken the previous record for the total number of votes cast for a single candidate in a presidential election, set in 2008 by Barack Obama, who garnered 69,498,516 votes.

 

Four former secretaries of Homeland Security who served in the Bush and Obama administrations are calling for the transition process to begin. The leader of the General Services Administration has yet to officially acknowledge Mr. Biden as the winner of the presidential election, preventing his transition team from gaining access to crucial services and funding.

In a statement from former Secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff, Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson, who formed the group Citizens for Strong Democracy, they said federal law allows for the transition to run alongside challenges to the election.

“President Trump is assured the benefit of a fair process and the right to file legal challenges and request recounts in certain states, but his legal claims cannot and must not prevent the transition process from beginning,” the former secretaries said.

The group said the peaceful transfer of power is essential and has proven critical as incoming presidents prepared to confront economic and national security challenges, like after the 2008 and 2016 elections.

“Our country is in the middle of twin crises: a global pandemic and a severe economic downturn,” they said. “The pandemic will make any transition more complicated. At this period of heightened risk for our nation, we do not have a single day to spare to begin the transition. For the good of the nation, we must start now.”

The vice president-elect and her husband Doug Emhoff visited Dog Tag Bakery in Georgetown in Washington, a non-profit bakery that runs education and employment programs for veterans, military spouses and military caregivers.

A video posted to Facebook shows Harris and Emhoff at the bakery, where she was congratulated on her projected win of the vice presidency.

The campaign said during their visit, Harris and Emhoff met the bakery’s founder Constance Milstein, Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet and veterans in Dog Tag Bakery’s fellowship program.

Harris and Emhoff are also spending Veterans Day making calls to former service members and caregivers, including some whom Emhoff met on the campaign trail, the campaign said.

Former President Barack Obama and Mr. Biden visited the veteran-run bakery in July 2018.

Veterans, who made up roughly 15% of voters in the presidential election, backed Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, exit polling shows.

Fifty-four percent of veterans voted for Mr. Trump, while 44% backed Mr. Biden in the election. This 10-point gap is considerably narrower than the 26-point advantage Mr. Trump had over Hillary Clinton four years ago, when 60% of veterans backed Mr. Trump, while just 34% voted for Clinton.

Those who have served in the U.S. military are more likely than the electorate as a whole to identify as Republican and to have voted for the Republican candidate for president in recent elections, exit polls show. Veterans are also more likely to be men, who tend to vote Republican in higher numbers than women do.

Mr. Biden did make some gains with veterans who describe themselves as politically moderate and with those who identify as independents. These groups of veterans backed Mr. Trump four years ago, but swung more toward Mr. Biden this year. Conservative veterans voted for the president in big numbers – nearly nine in 10 backed him – as they did four years ago.

While the COVID-19 public health crisis and its impact on the U.S. economy will preoccupy Mr. Biden during his first weeks in office, the incoming Democratic administration is also expected to quickly start dismantling Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda.

After Mr. Biden is sworn-in in January, his administration will move to fully restore an Obama-era program that shields 640,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, halting Mr. Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to end it, people familiar with the plans told CBS News. The incoming administration also intends to rescind Mr. Trump’s travel and immigration restrictions on 13 mostly African or predominantly Muslim countries.

Mr. Biden will look to implement a 100-day freeze on deportations while his administration issues guidance narrowing who can be arrested by immigration agents. Obama-era memos that prioritized the deportation of immigrants with criminal convictions, recent border-crossers and those who entered the country illegally more than once were scrapped in 2017 by Mr. Trump so that no unauthorized immigrant would be exempted from being arrested and removed from the country.

With his defeat, Mr. Trump’s immigration policy changes are now vulnerable — and Mr. Biden’s team is eager to begin the process of undoing most of them.

“All that stuff was done administratively through the [president’s] executive authority, and so a new executive can basically reject those and start from scratch,” a source familiar with the Biden team’s plans told CBS News.

The Trump legal team has not given up its Supreme Court challenge over late ballots in Pennsylvania, but they cannot explain how the litigation could help them, given that Mr. Biden’s margin in the state is far larger than the number of votes that came in late.

Jay Sekulow, the president’s personal attorney, is working on the challenge for late arriving ballots. Mr. Biden is currently ahead in Pennsylvania by more than 47,000 votes. Election officials say only 10,000 ballots came in after Election Day, which would mean that the Supreme Court fight to nullify those late ballots would not change the outcome.

Sekulow, however, told CBS News he had “just heard” that 54,000 votes came in after Election Day, which CBS News has not confirmed. The Supreme Court has so far declined to intervene in the Pennsylvania dispute except for an order to segregate ballots, but not stop counting them, that came in late.

When asked if this makes the litigation moot, Sekulow said, “The stay from Justice Alito is in place,” referring to the order to segregate ballots.

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden pay their respects during a Veterans Day stop at the Korean War Memorial Park in Philadelphia on November 11, 2020.

 

Mr. Biden and Jill Biden visited the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial Park, where they participated in a ceremony commemorating Veterans Day and placed a wreath. The pair were greeted by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

The president-elect and future first lady, both wearing masks, also posed for some socially distanced photos with those in attendance.

President Trump walks in the rain as he arrives to attend a Veterans Day observance in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on November 11, 2020.

 

Mr. Trump made his first public appearance in five days on Wednesday, visiting Arlington National Cemetery with first lady Melania Trump. Mr. Trump placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but did not make remarks. Vice President Mike Pence also attended the ceremony.

Mr. Trump’s last official event was on Thursday, when he spoke to reporters and cast doubt on the outcome of the election.

 

Trump honors veterans in proclamation ahead of Arlington Cemetery visit

Before heading to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony observing Veterans Day, Mr. Trump issued a proclamation marking the holiday and honoring the nation’s veterans.

“America’s veterans have fought to defend our country, its values, and its interests since the first days of our founding. They have defeated tyrants, eliminated terrorists, and secured freedom at home and abroad. Their courage and fortitude in the face of adversity serve as an example for all Americans,” Mr. Trump said in his proclamation.

The president said that as commander in chief, he has “relentlessly fought to support America’s veterans,” noting the legislation he has signed addressing veterans’ medical care and other benefits.

“Our precious liberty has survived and thrived because of generations of brave Americans — from every background and walk of life — who have answered the call to support and defend the United States,” the proclamation continued. “The gravity of their contribution is immeasurable and so is our debt to every single one of our nation’s veterans.”

 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday his state will conduct a manual hand recount of all ballots cast in the presidential race in the state, as he faces growing pressure from fellow Georgia Republicans over unsubstantiated accusations of voting irregularities and mismanagement of the state’s elections.

“This will help build confidence. It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once,” Raffensperger said at a press conference. “It will be a heavy lift.”

He said the presidential contest will undergo a risk-limiting audit, which requires a full by-hand recount in each of Georgia’s 159 counties.

Ninety-seven counties in the state have sent in final numbers to the state, Raffensperger said, and the current margin of votes between President-elect Biden and President Trump is 14,111. He vowed that his office has been investigating, and will continue to investigate, all instances of voting irregularities.

“Every legal vote will count,” he said.

Raffensperger was joined at the press conference Wednesday by elections directors from across the state, and he praised them for their work ensuring all legal votes are counted.

“They executed their responsibilities and they did their job.” he said. “This is a process. It is a process defined by law.”

CBS News still considers the presidential race in the state too close to call. Raffensperger predicted last week that because of the tight vote margins between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, the race would head to a recount.

Biden calls veterans the “absolute best of our country”

The president-elect marked Veterans Day in a statement outlining his commitment to those who served, saying he feels “the full weight of the honor and the responsibility that has been entrusted to me by the American people as the next president, and I vow to honor our country’s sacred obligation.”

“To all of our proud veterans, know that I will be a commander in chief who respects your sacrifice, understands your service, and who will never betray the values you fought so bravely to defend,” he said. “I will never treat you or your families with anything less than the honor you deserve.”

Mr. Biden said his late son Beau’s service in the National Guard reinforced his appreciation of the sacrifice made by men and women in the military and their families. Beau Biden, who died of a brain tumor in 2015 at the age of 46, deployed to Iraq for a yearlong deployment in 2008.

“We prayed every night and morning for his safety, and we missed him at every family gathering or when tucking his children in at night. It was hard. It hurt. These are challenges most American families never have to face,” he said. “And yet, Jill and I were constantly in awe when visiting with wounded service members at Christmas or hosting veterans in our home for dinners, at the pride our military members and veterans feel in their service, and at their matchless sense of duty. They are the absolute best of our country.”

 

Mr. Trump has won Alaska and its three electoral votes after more votes came in overnight, CBS News projects. The win gives the president 217 projected electoral votes, compared to Mr. Biden’s 279.

Incumbent Republican Senator Dan Sullivan has also the Senate race there, bringing the Republican Senate seat total to 50. Republicans need 51 seats to control the Senate, since the Democratic vice president will hold the tie-breaking vote.

“A Promised Land” is the first book of an expected two volumes, which will detail Mr. Obama’s first forays into political office, his 2008 election and end with the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

Former President Barack Obama will sit down for interviews with “60 Minutes” and “CBS Sunday Morning” airing on Sunday, November 15, in what will be his first television interviews following the 2020 presidential election.

Twelve years ago, Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, appeared on “60 Minutes” after he was elected as the 44th president of the United States. The former president will return to CBS News to speak with Gayle King for “CBS Sunday Morning,” and Scott Pelley for “60 Minutes.” The interviews will be conducted in Washington, D.C.

The discussions will be Mr. Obama’s first since Mr. Biden, his vice president and close friend, became the projected 46th president. The interview will also focus on the upcoming release of Mr. Obama’s new book, “A Promised Land,” which is one of the year’s most anticipated books.

“A Promised Land” is the first book of an expected two volumes, which will detail Mr. Obama’s first forays into political office, his 2008 election and end with the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

Officials from Mr. Biden’s transition team are accusing the General Services Administration, the federal agency which oversees the logistics of the presidential transition, of stalling by refusing to formally kick off the process.

The GSA provides a presidential transition team with Washington office space and coordinates access to federal agencies to plan potential policy changes with current administration officials, using $6.3 million allocated to support its efforts.

Emily Murphy, the GSA administrator, has declined to determine Mr. Biden is the likely next president and begin the transition process. Biden officials have said they’re considering pursuing legal action if Murphy does not act in the coming days, but Mr. Biden said he didn’t think that would be necessary, and that “nothing’s going to stop” the transition team’s work.

The transition process is critical because it allows a new administration to begin considering how it will implement its priorities before taking office, and allows incoming officials to gain access to classified intelligence about threats around the world.

Aside from a pair of trips to his golf club in Sterling, Virginia, for rounds Saturday and Sunday, the American people have not seen Mr. Trump since Thursday, when he falsely declared himself the winner of the presidential election and made unsubstantiated claims the election was rigged.

But that will change Wednesday, as the president and first lady Melania Trump are set to participate in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in observance of Veterans Day. Mr, Trump is not, however, expected to deliver any remarks.

Mr. Biden, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet with transition advisers.

State Department playing no role in Biden’s calls with foreign leaders

One consequence of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) unwillingness to “ascertain” a winner of the presidential election is that the congratulatory phone calls Mr. Biden is receiving from world leaders are happening without the help of the State Department, according to a transition official.

The GSA is the federal government agency that provides the president-elect’s transition team access to federal agencies to aid in planning policy changes with current administration officials. But the current GSA administrator, Emily Murphy, refuses to acknowledge that Mr. Biden is the next president, so that the transition process can formally begin.

In past transitions, the State Department has facilitated the logistics of the calls and provided translation services, possible talking points, and even taken notes, if needed. In the first month of his presidential transition, former President Barack Obama spoke with 44 foreign leaders, according to a count by the center.

In the past two days, Mr. Biden has spoken with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom, according to readouts from the transition team.

The lack of GSA ascertainment means that the Biden-Harris transition team is being denied State Department-facilitated calls with foreign leaders as they reach out to express their congratulations, a transition official told CBS News.

The president-elect’s transition team on Tuesday rolled out its initial list of “key members” of its agency review teams, which serve to ensure the new Biden administration is poised to begin governing across all departments once Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn into office.

The agency review teams are largely composed of volunteers, though some include full-time employees of the transition team, and vary in size depending on the agency.

“Our nation is grappling with a pandemic, an economic crisis, urgent calls for racial justice, and the existential threat of climate change. We must be prepared for a seamless transfer of knowledge to the incoming administration to protect our interests at home and abroad,” former Senator Ted Kaufman, co-chair of the transition team, said in a statement. “The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One.”

The teams will begin by meeting with former agency officials and experts, as well as representatives from think tanks, labor groups, trade associations and other organizations. Once the General Services Administration recognizes Mr. Biden is the winner of the election, the teams will work directly with agency staff.

Those tapped to serve on the agency review teams come from a variety of sectors, including state government, universities and think tanks. Others are alumni of the Obama administration or have worked on Capitol Hill.

Among those selected to lead their respective agency review teams are Leandra English, the former deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who is heading up that agency’s team, and Chris Lu, former deputy secretary of labor who is leading that department’s group.

The Biden transition team noted that of the agency review team members that will be announced, more than half are women and roughly 40% “represent communities historically underrepresented in the federal government, including people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.”

Taking questions after a speech in Wilmington, the president-elect said the current administration’s refusal to acknowledge his victory “is not of much consequence” for ensuring a smooth transition, but said Mr. Trump’s continued denial of the outcome would hurt his legacy.

“I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” he said. “I think it will not help the president’s legacy. I know from my discussions with foreign leaders thus far that they are hopeful that the United States’ democratic institutions are being viewed, once again, as being strong and enduring. But I think at the end of the day, it’s all going to come to fruition on January 20.”

Between now and Inauguration Day, he continued, “my hope and expectation is that the American people do know and do understand that there has been a transition.”

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