Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:00 p.m. ET, November 12, 2020
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11:17 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

Do not expect Trump to make any public moves on acknowledging loss until after Georgia recount, source says

From CNN's Dana Bash and Jeff Zeleny

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A source familiar with President Trump's thinking says that now Georgia is doing a hand recount do not expect the President to make any public moves towards stating the obvious — that he lost — until at least that’s done.

The Georgia deadline is Nov. 20. 

The next date to watch is Nov 23 — which is the deadline for Michigan and Pennsylvania to certify their results by each state’s law.

Additionally, a top Senate GOP official tells CNN this morning that Republican leadership has told senators they expect this to not drag on “no more than another week.”

But, of course, they don’t know that with any certainty.

Remember: Major new organizations, including CNN, projected Biden will win the presidential election on Saturday. CNN President Trump has launched a series of legal challenges to the results and has not yet conceded to Biden.

There has been no evidence of widespread voting fraud despite Trump's claims.

11:13 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

Diplomats unclear on what to tell allies as Trump refuses to concede

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

As President Trump refuses to acknowledge Joe Biden's presidential election victory, he has put American diplomats in an awkward and untenable position — leaving them confused about what they can say to foreign counterparts about the election results and distressed about the possibility of waning global confidence in American democracy.

As of Monday night, the State Department had not provided diplomats with guidance for how to discuss the election results, five US diplomats told CNN.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo further complicated the matter on Tuesday when he refused to acknowledge Biden's win and when asked if the State Department would cooperate with Biden's transition, said that "there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

Two US diplomats said they had been looking forward to hearing Pompeo speak in the hope that it would give them a sense of how to discuss the election results. But Pompeo's comments instead drew outrage and confusion from US diplomats who argue that they further undermine US credibility.

"I am sick," said one US diplomat overseas. "How dare he undermine our work."

"How can he be serious?" said another US diplomat. "This is actually incredibly scary."

Traditionally, the secretary of state congratulates the President-elect and sends department-wide notes committing the department to a constructive transfer of power.

Since CNN protected that Biden won the presidential election, US diplomats had asked the State Department for clarity but they have not received any guidance, four diplomats told CNN prior to Pompeo's remarks.

Read more here.

11:00 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

Biden transition team undeterred and "moving full speed ahead"

From CNN's MJ Lee 

Angela Weiss/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Five days after the 2020 election was called, the sitting President is still refusing to concede the race to President-elect Joe Biden.

For now, Biden’s transition team is continuing try to project a sense of focus and calm: the transition is “moving full speed ahead” and nothing is going to take them off that track, one transition official tells CNN this morning. 

They point to the White House chief of staff announcement from last night, the unveiling of the agency review teams and the continued readout of phone calls with foreign leaders (despite not getting any coordination from the State Department as they should be at this moment in the transition,) as all a clear sign that they are marching towards Jan. 20, regardless of what noise the President and his allies are making. 

They also say that all of the advanced planning that they did prior to Election Day was meant for them to be prepared for "any and all circumstances."

As far as the comment from Republican Sen. Lankford that he is willing to intervene if Biden still isn’t receiving presidential daily briefings by tomorrow, this transition official says the only deadline that they’re focused on right now is Jan. 20.

11:54 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

CNN has not yet projected a winner in 3 states. Here's where the vote count stands in each of them.

From CNN's Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark

CNN has not yet projected a winner in Arizona, Georgia or North Carolina.

Major new organizations, including CNN, projected on Saturday that Biden will win the presidential election and he already has the more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

Here's a breakdown of where the vote count stands in these three states as of 8 a.m. ET:

Arizona - Current state-wide vote count: Biden: 1,663,447; Trump: 1,651,812 

  • As of Thursday morning, there are under 25,000 ballots left to be counted, according to the Secretary of State’s website. This includes more than 2,700 that haven’t been signature-verified; some of those likely will wind up not being counted.
  • In Maricopa County (Arizona’s largest county which includes Phoenix) Biden’s lead decreased to 44,673 over Trump. Biden: 1,038,364; Trump: 993,691
  • Maricopa County said it will report additional results Thursday and expects to complete counting all ballots this week. The county said Wednesday evening in a press release they have: 
  • Estimated early ballots left to process and tabulate: 2,498
  • Estimated number of early ballots left to verify: 1,100
  • Provisional Ballot Totals: 18,404
  • Valid and will be counted: 6,078 (5,209 included in Wednesday's results)
  • Invalid and will not be counted: 10,078
  • Estimated provisional ballots left to verify: 2,248

Georgia - Current state-wide vote count: Biden: 2,471,981; Trump: 2,457,924.

  • Joe Biden’s lead in Georgia is now at 14,057 votes, down ever-so-slightly from 14,093 Wednesday afternoon. 
  • 101 counties (63.5%) have certified their results, including Gwinnett County. DeKalb County will certify Thursday. Fulton (which includes Atlanta) and Cobb counties will certify Friday (the deadline for all counties to certify their votes.)
  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday that there will be a full hand recount of the presidential race in the state.
  • Importantly, Raffensperger said the recount won’t delay certification of the presidential results in Georgia, which has a Nov. 20 certification deadline.
  • The recount will occur under the framework of a routine post-election audit, Raffensperger said. Because of the narrow margin, officials will re-check every ballot cast in the presidential race across the entire state as part of the audit. Typically, audits like these only examine a small sample of the votes.
  • Because the recount is being conducted as part of the audit process, Trump can request another recount after this one is completed, Raffensperger said.

North Carolina - Current state-wide vote count: Trump: 2,736,881; Biden: 2,663,605

  • No new votes have been reported in North Carolina since CNN's last update. With about 98% of the expected vote counted, Donald Trump is up 73,276 votes, a lead that’s sizable but slowly shrinking. 
  • Today is the deadline for ballots to be received as long as they were postmarked by election day. 
  • Approximately 24,300 absentee ballots that have been received by counties after Election Day could be added to the results
  • Many North Carolina counties are scheduled to hold meetings today to consider and count absentee ballots. 
  • Approximately 20,140 provisional ballots haven’t already been disqualified and could also be counted, although more could be disqualified as counties continue to investigate them. 

Based on the races CNN has called, this is where the electoral college currently stands:

Joe Biden has 279 electoral college votes to Donald Trump's 217. Based on Biden's lead in Arizona (11 votes) and Georgia (16 votes), he could end up with 306 electoral college votes.

10:50 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

These are the climate executive actions Biden says he will take on day one

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is planning a flurry of executive actions when he takes office on Jan. 20, and many focus on combating the global climate crisis.

Biden's legislative agenda on climate will largely depend on whether Democrats gain control of the US Senate, which will be decided in two run-off elections in Georgia taking place on January 5.

But regardless of which party controls the Senate, Biden has pledged to sign a series of executive orders, which do not require congressional approval.

Here are some of the executive actions Biden has said he will take on his first day as president:

  • Require limits on methane pollution for oil and gas operations.
  • Use the federal government procurement system to work towards 100% clean energy and zero-emissions vehicles.
  • Ensure US government buildings and facilities are more efficient and climate-ready.
  • Implement the already-existing Clean Air Act, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by developing new fuel economy standards to ensure all new sales for light- and medium-duty vehicles will be electrified, and annual improvements for heavy duty vehicles.
  • Double down on liquid fuels like advanced biofuels and make agriculture a key part of the solution to the climate crisis.
  • Reduce emissions and cut consumer costs through new standards for appliance and building efficiency.
  • Require federal permit decisions to consider effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and ensure every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution.
  • Require public companies to disclose climate risks and greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains.
  • Protect biodiversity, slow extinction rates and conserve 30% of America's lands and waters by 2030.

Read more here.

3:11 p.m. ET, November 12, 2020

These are the key dates to look out for before Inauguration Day

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf and Will Mullery

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

Election Day is over, but the legal mechanisms that lead from Election Day to Inauguration Day have just begun.

Americans who went to the polls on Election Day didn't actually select the President directly. They were technically voting for 538 electors who, according to the system laid out by the Constitution, will meet in their respective states and vote for President and Vice President once the popular vote totals are completely counted and certified.

Here's a timeline of what happens between those two milestones and the key dates to look out for:

Nov. 3 – Election Day

Voters voted, votes were counted.

  • While many millions of Americans cast their ballots in the weeks leading up to Election Day, either by mail or as an in-person absentee voter, US law says Election Day occurs on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Votes were counted across the country on Election Day.

Nov. 4 – Nov. 23

Votes are counted.

  • Mail-in ballots had to be postmarked by Nov. 3 in every US state, but in many states they can be received late and still be counted. In most cases, they had to be received within a day or two of Election Day. But in Washington state, mail-in ballots can be received as late as Nov. 23 – the day before the state certifies its election results. In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, mail-in votes had to be received by Nov. 6. In North Carolina, they can be received until today Nov. 12.
  • In the battlegrounds of Minnesota and Nevada, they can be received until Nov. 10. And in Ohio, they can be received until Nov. 13.

Nov. 10 – Dec. 11

States certify election results.

  • Each state does it a little bit differently, but starting a week after Election Day, state governments began to certify their election results. Those deadlines can be changed in the event of a state recount if there is an extremely close result. Most of these dates occur in the last two weeks of November.

Dec. 8

"Safe harbor" to determine election results and assign electors.

  • Under the Electoral Count Act, this is the date by which states are meant to have counted votes, settled disputes, and determined the winner of their electoral college votes. Governors are supposed to create certificates of ascertainment listing the winner of the election and the slate of electors.
  • In 2000, the Supreme Court ended a targeted recount in Florida because it could not be completed by this safe harbor date. That recount would not have changed the outcome of the election, but a full statewide recount could have made Al Gore president. This is when it could become very important for Republicans that they control more state legislatures than Democrats, including in most of the contested 2020 battleground states.

Dec. 14

Electoral votes are cast.

  • In law, this date is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year it falls on Dec. 14. Six days after disputes are supposed to be settled, electors are supposed to meet in their respective states and cast votes for US President. They certify six sets of votes and send them to Washington. Many states have laws requiring their electors to support the winner of their state's election and can levy fines against faithless electors who go their own way.

Dec. 23

Electoral votes must arrive in Washington.

  • The certified electoral votes have nine days to get from their states to Capitol Hill.

Jan. 3

New Congress is sworn in.

  • Members of the House and new members of the Senate take the oath of office at noon. This is the official start of the 117th Congress.

Jan. 6

Electoral votes are counted.

  • Members of the House and the Senate all meet in the House chamber. The President of the Senate (that’s Vice President Mike Pence) presides over the session and the Electoral votes are read and counted in alphabetical order by two appointees each from the House and Senate. They then give their tallies to Pence, who announces the results and listens for objections.
  • If there are objections or if there are, somehow, multiple slates of electors put forward by a state, the House and Senate consider them separately to decide how to count those votes.
  • There are 538 electoral votes – one for each congressman and senator plus three for Washington, DC. If no candidate gets 270, the 435 members of the House decide the election. Each state gets a vote.
  • While there are more Democrats in the House, Republicans, as of now, control more state delegations, so it is very possible the House could pick Donald Trump even though there is a Democratic majority. It requires a majority of state votes to become President. The House has until noon on Jan. 20 to pick the President. If they can't, it would be the vice president or the next person eligible in the line of presidential succession.

Jan. 20

Inauguration Day.

  • A new president takes the oath of office at noon. If the President-elect dies between Election Day and Inauguration, the vice president-elect takes the oath of office and becomes President.
  • In a disputed election, if the House has not chosen a President but the Senate has chosen a vice president, the vice president-elect becomes acting president until the House makes a choice. And if there's no president-elect and no vice president-elect, the House appoints a president until one is chosen.
9:45 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

Group of former world leaders criticizes Trump's "baseless accusations of subversion"

From CNN's Simon Cullen in London

The Elders, an organization of former world leaders set up by the late Nelson Mandela, has criticized Donald Trump’s continued assertions of electoral fraud.

"The Elders today expressed deep concern about US President Donald Trump’s refusal to adhere to the protocols and processes governing the transition of power, as putting at risk the functioning of American democracy," the group said in a statement on Thursday.

"The continued assertions of electoral fraud by the President and some senior members of the Administration and of the Republican Party, offered as yet without any compelling evidence, convey a lack of respect for the integrity and independence of the democratic and legal institutions of the United States," the statement continued.

"Such an unprecedented situation could have far-reaching consequences beyond the United States’ borders. Those who stand to benefit from the current impasse are autocratic rulers and malign actors who wish to undermine democracy and the rule of law across the world," the group said.

The Elders include the first woman president of Ireland Mary Robinson, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo. Former US President Jimmy Carter is an emeritus elder.

The group is urging Republican Party leaders to support a smooth transition of power, saying such continued "baseless accusations of subversion" pose a significant risk to US society.

9:47 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

Political limbo in US has "no impact" on medical fight against Covid-19, Fauci says

From CNN Health’s Naomi Thomas

Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The medical part of the fight against Covid-19 keeps going forward regardless of post-Election Day politics in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" on Thursday. 

"Certainly, it’s having no impact negatively on our ability, as well as our activity, in developing vaccines and developing countermeasures," Fauci told Roberts when asked what impact the political limbo was having. "The medical part of it just keeps going forward." 

Fauci said he and his colleagues work continues on getting the message to the American people, and also pushing ahead on development of vaccines and countermeasures.

"So, although you know it’s still a major challenge, Robin, we’re in a difficult situation and we’ve just got to keep pushing," he said. 

Fauci's comments come as the US hit another record high of new daily coronavirus cases Wednesday. Wednesday was also the ninth straight day of new cases topping 100,000. Hospitalizations in the country also topped records for a second day in a row.

The White House Task Force this week again alerted states of "accelerating" coronavirus spread and recommended increased testing in its weekly report to states.

The US has reported more than 10 million coronavirus cases and over 241,000 deaths.

10:10 a.m. ET, November 12, 2020

"Joe Biden is President-elect," GOP Ohio governor says

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine on November 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio.
Governor of Ohio Mike DeWine on November 6, 2018 in Columbus, Ohio. Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that the country needs to consider Joe Biden the President-elect.

His remarks come as the list of prominent Trump allies saying the race is over grows: Karl Rove wrote an op-ed, Trump conservative radio ally Hugh Hewitt said it’s done, and Geraldo Rivera said yesterday “time coming soon to say goodbye with grace & dignity.” 

"It would appear that Joe Biden is going to be the next president of the United States but, look, we just all need to take a deep breath. There is a process for all of this. You need to follow the process. And we need to move this country forward," DeWine told CNN's John Berman on New Day. 

He said Trump has every right to go to court and make his case. He said he doesn’t know the merits of the Trump campaign’s case, but that it looks like Biden will be the next President.

"I think that we need to consider the former vice president as the President-elect. Joe Biden is President-elect. The White House has every — the President and his campaign has every right to go into court, our courts are open, our courts are the best place, frankly, to adjudicate facts," the Ohio Republican said.  

Watch Gov. DeWine: