Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020
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5:21 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Georgia will announce election recount results around noon on Thursday

From CNN's Wes Bruer 

Georgia plans to announce the results of the statewide audit around noon on Thursday, said Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting systems implementation manager.

The Secretary of State plans to post county-by-county tallies with a timestamp, so the public can view the results of the audit. 

Sterling said that the state has finished auditing virtually all ballots from the presidential race. About 5 million Georgians voted, and President-elect Joe Biden won by about 13,000 votes. Election officials have said the audit hasn’t found widespread fraud and will affirm Biden’s win. 

Watch Jake Tapper's interview with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for more:

4:08 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Sen. Graham says he would urge Trump "to give intel briefings to Biden"

From CNN's Ali Main 

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on November 17.
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on November 17. Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, urged the President to allow President-elect Joe Biden to receive classified intelligence briefings on Wednesday, as Trump continues to wage legal challenges in an attempt to delay the certification of election results.

Asked to respond to concerns about whether Biden was being briefed adequately on vaccine efforts by the Trump administration, Graham responded, "you know, the President is contesting the election, and I would urge him to give intel briefings to Biden."

"How much further to go, I don't know. We're going to be fine at the end of the day. This thing will work itself out. It always has and it will here," he added.

He did not say whether he had personally spoken with the President on the matter.

Last week, Graham said he thought Biden should be receiving intelligence briefings. He told CNN he had not expressed his thoughts with the White House but said, "I hope so," when asked if he expects Biden to get the briefings soon.

3:22 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Biden optimistic about battling Covid-19, but criticizes Trump administration for not sharing information

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Biden Transition
Biden Transition

President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration for failing to ascertain the election so his transition could receive access to necessary information to be prepared to tackle the pandemic beginning on day one.  

During a roundtable with frontline workers, Biden cited as one example that his team does not know the depths of the personal protective equipment stockpiles and noted that the sharing of information is critical to vaccine implementation and distribution.

“Soon we’re going to be behind by weeks and months being able to put together the whole initiative relating to the biggest promise we have with two drug companies coming along and finding 95% effectiveness, efficiency in the vaccines, which is enormous promise,” he said.

He added, “So I just want to tell you that that's the only slow down right now that we have.”

Remember: Trump has refused to concede the race and blocked his administration from taking any of the administrative steps typically taken in a transfer of power.

This includes allowing the General Services Administration to declare that there is a president-elect  — a move that triggers the transition process.

Watch the moment:

3:45 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Biden hears emotional testimony from ICU nurse during roundtable

From CNN's Sarah Mucha

Mary Turner speaks during a virtual roundtable with frontline health care workers and President-elect Joe Biden.
Mary Turner speaks during a virtual roundtable with frontline health care workers and President-elect Joe Biden. Biden Transition

President-elect Joe Biden grew emotional, wiping away a tear after hearing an intensive care unit nurse describe her experience on the frontlines battling Covid-19.

Mary Turner, head of the Minnesota Nurses Association, recounted that she has held the hands of dying patients who cried out for family members they weren't able to see, and that she has taken care of co-workers who fought for their lives on a ventilator.

Turner said that the nurses in her unit have had to reuse N-95s many times to the point that "sometimes the masks literally fall off our faces."

After noting that she has yet to be tested for Covid-19, Biden spoke for the first time, interjecting, "You're kidding me." 

As she finished, Turner apologized for being emotional, to which Biden replied, "No, you got me emotional."

Watch Minnesota nurse Mary Turner describe her life as a frontline worker:

2:53 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Biden officials still confident that Georgia recount will affirm victory in the state

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

People hand count ballots during an audit at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration office in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on November 13.
People hand count ballots during an audit at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration office in Lawrenceville, Georgia, on November 13. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Officials on Joe Biden’s campaign expressed on a press call Wednesday afternoon that they believe the Georgia recount will finish today and that it will affirm Biden’s victory in the state. 

“That process is consistent with our expectations that the outcome following this hand recount will be the same outcome as the initial results indicated: that President-elect Biden has won the state of Georgia,” said Patrick Moore, who serves as legal counsel on the campaign. 

Moore noted that while there have been a handful of discrepancies in the totals, this is normal.

“These developments are entirely consistent with what you would see in any full hand recount,” he said. "Because human error happens, the administration of elections is complicated, but through diligence it’s uncovered and addressed. And that's exactly what has happened here."

He added, “We continue to agree with the secretary of state that there is no reason to believe that any widespread irregularity has occurred.” 

Marc Elias, an election expert, addressed the last pending lawsuit filed last week which called for a temporary restraining order, calling it “frivolous.” He added, like he said last week, that this was a bipartisan agreement that was struck between his clients. 

Asked if they’ve considered any other routes the Trump campaign might pursue following certification, Elias dismissed the possibility.

“There isn't any amount of recounting of these ballots that's going to change [that Joe Biden won.] All it's going to do is waste the taxpayers money of Georgia,” he said.  

2:24 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Biden tested negative for Covid-19 today

President-elect Joe Biden tested negative for coronavirus today.

"President- elect Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected," Biden's office said. 

Biden is currently participating in a virtual roundtable with frontline health care workers.

2:36 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Why HHS Secretary Alex Azar says he will not brief Biden transition team on Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said staff will not work with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team until the General Services Administration makes a determination that Biden is the President-elect.

"We've made it very clear that when GSA makes a determination, we will ensure complete, cooperative professional transitions and planning," Azar said during a briefing Wednesday. "We follow the guidance. We're about getting vaccines and therapeutics invented and get the clinical trial data and saving lives here. That's where our focus is as we go forward with our efforts."

Azar said that many people involved in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Operation Warp Speed team are "career officials" and not impacted by a change in leadership.

The Biden transition team has yet to be briefed on the pandemic and has not been given full access to information from agencies on vaccine distribution plans.

2:03 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Biden participates in virtual roundtable with health care workers

Biden Transition
Biden Transition

President-elect Joe Biden is participating in a virtual roundtable with frontline health care workers in Wilmington, Delaware.

The event comes as the US nears 250,000 coronavirus deaths and cases continue to surge across the country.

At least 1,707 new Covid-19 deaths were reported Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That's the highest daily death toll since May 14.

Biden's transition has moved to tackle the pandemic and announced a team of coronavirus advisers.

1:47 p.m. ET, November 18, 2020

Biden nets 28 votes from latest batch of uncounted ballots in Georgia audit

From CNN’s Jason Morris, Amara Walker and Wes Bruer

Another memory card with uncounted votes was discovered during Georgia’s statewide audit, giving a small boost to President-elect Joe Biden, a top election official told reporters on Wednesday. 

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting systems implementation manager, said local officials in Douglas County, just west of Atlanta, “forgot to upload” results from one memory card on Election Day.  

The memory card had 156 votes for Biden, 128 votes for President Trump, and seven votes for Libertarian nominee Joe Jorgenson, Sterling said. That slight edge for Biden in this latest batch puts his statewide lead at 12,781 votes, with almost the entire audit completed, Sterling said.   

“We are down to the tens-of-thousands of ballots left to go,” Sterling said, adding that his still expects to meet the self-imposed deadline of midnight tonight. That would give state officials enough time and certify the official results of the election by Friday, as required by state law. 

The audit previously turned up three batches of uncounted votes, from Walton County, Fayette County and Floyd County, and those batches netted about 1,000 votes for Trump. Officials have stressed that these mishaps were caused by human error and are not indicative of vote-rigging or widespread fraud. 

Sterling continued to rebut Trump’s claims of fraud, as he has done nearly every day this week. 

“The President’s tweets basically targeting fraudulent votes is a little ironic because he has actually gained votes from this process. I hope people will go to trusted sources like the election county directors or the secretary of state site to get real information of how the system works and what we are doing to protect everybody’s vote in the state,” Sterling said during the news conference.   

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that the Georgia audit previously turned up two batches of uncounted votes from Fayette County and Floyd County. The previous audit resulted in three batches of uncounted votes, including from Walton County.