Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:01 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020
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1:40 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

One Republican board member suggests he will certify Michigan votes

From CNN's Annie Grayer

One of the two Republican members of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers signaled that he will certify the election results.

In his first public comments since the election, Aaron Van Langevelde gave a strong signal that he will vote to certify.

 "I think we are pretty limited today. I think we have a duty to do this," Van Langevelde said.

Should Langevelde vote yes, along with the two Democrats on the committee, the Michigan results will be certified – a step that would formally grant President-elect Joe Biden the state's 16 electoral votes.

The other Republican on the committee, Norman Shinkle, is expected to vote against certifying the results, based on comments he has made in recent days.

However, Langevelde pushed to first open up the meeting to public comments before voting. 

That comment period had now started and it is not clear how many of the hundreds of potential commentators will be allowed to speak before a vote.

1:47 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Biden speaks to NATO Secretary General

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images
Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with President-elect Joe Biden on Monday to congratulate him and thank him for being a "long-standing supporter of NATO and the transatlantic relationship."

The secretary general told Biden that he looked "forward to working very closely with him to further strengthen the bond between North America and Europe and to prepare next year’s meeting of NATO leaders."

1:48 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Michigan board is meeting now about election certification

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Chandelis Duster

MI Department of State
MI Department of State

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers is meeting now to vote on certifying the state's election results, a step that would formally grant President-elect Joe Biden the state's 16 electoral votes.

Norman Shinkle, one of the Republican members of the board who CNN has previously reported is likely to vote against certification, is not wearing a mask. Shinkle appears to be the only person in the room not wearing a mask.

The certification of the results would be another blow to Trump's efforts to overturn the election results through legal challenges that have been dismissed in key states and attempts to delay certifications.

There has been no evidence of widespread fraud nationwide. Michigan Secretary of State spokesperson Tracy Wimmer told CNN that they expect the board of state canvassers to certify at their scheduled meeting today.

1:06 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Georgia recount could start Tuesday and last into next week 

From CNN’s Jason Morris and Amara Walker

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office says the state's recount could start as soon as tomorrow. 

"We’re making the final decision on that today," Gabriel Sterling, Voter Implementation Manager with the office said. 

"It will probably be sometime tomorrow, and then we will probably wrap it up sometime next week. We are still working on the details. We want to talk to the counties first, we don’t want the counties reading the paper, what they are going to be told to do. We want them to have some equity in the decision making process on that," Sterling said, during a zoom press conference today.   

Under Georgia law, because the margin in total vote tallies is less than 0.5%, the Trump campaign had two business days after Friday's certification to request a recount. They requested that recount on Saturday. 

The recount will be taxpayer-funded, and will be conducted in each Georgia county using high speed ballot scanners.   

There is no statutory deadline for the recount to be completed under Georgia law. Sterling said it will take between 1,800-2,200 man hours, across the state, to complete the recount.   

Remember: President-elect Joe Biden, who was declared the winner last Friday as the state certified the results, is ahead by 12,670 votes or 0.2% over President Donald Trump in Georgia.

 

3:04 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Biden announces foreign policy and national security team

From CNN's Sarah Mucha and Gregory Krieg

AP/Getty/Shutterstock/SIPA
AP/Getty/Shutterstock/SIPA

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris just announced the members of their foreign policy and national security team. 

In a Transition Team news release they listed the following:

  • Antony Blinken, Secretary of State
  • Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security 
  • Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence 
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations 
  • Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor
  • John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate 

Biden and Harris will formally introduce and announce the team tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. ET, according to the transition team.

Many of their nominees will make history. Here's some more information on them:

  • Alejandro Mayorkas has been nominated to be Biden's secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and would be the first Latino to head the agency. Mayorkas, a former deputy secretary at DHS, will be tasked with rebuilding the department that the Trump administration used to enforce its draconian border policy, including family separation at the US-Mexico border.
  • Avril Haines, a former top CIA official and deputy national security adviser, has been nominated for director of national intelligence and would be the first woman to hold the powerful post.

Biden will tap former US Secretary of State John Kerry as a special presidential envoy on climate. Kerry is a champion of the Paris climate agreement, which Trump formally withdrew from. Kerry was Biden's pick to co-chair a "unity task force" on climate change with allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders after the Democratic presidential primary.

The transition team also confirmed CNN's previous reporting that Biden will pick Antony Blinken to be secretary of state, Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser.

Blinken, Biden's top foreign policy aide, previously served in a deputy role during the Obama administration. Sullivan is another veteran foreign policy hand, and Thomas-Greenfield is a career diplomat with deep experience in the foreign service.

Sullivan and Thomas-Greenfield tweeted shortly after the announcement:

12:44 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor says the election was “free, fair and election results are true”

From CNN's Kelly Mena

Marc Levy/AP
Marc Levy/AP

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Monday said that the Keystone state’s November election was conducted fairly and accurately amid the state’s certification deadline. 

Fetterman, a Democrat, was joined by Philadelphia County Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, to push back against voter fraud and voting irregularity claims from the Trump campaign and Republicans. 

“In a Democracy you are going to win some you are going to lose some but in Pennsylvania we have a true result and I am proud to work with Commissioner Schmidt, everyone -- Republican or Democrat -- across Pennsylvania that believes we can agree to disagree on some policies but we all collectively acknowledge the truth and that is Pennsylvania had a free, fair and accurate accounting of its democratic will,” said Fetterman to CNN’s Kate Bolduan. 

When asked by Bolduan how pending litigation is going to affect the outcome of the election, Fetterman responded that he expects Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes to be awarded to President-elect Joe Biden, who CNN has already projected as the winner of the state. 

 “Our Electoral votes are going to go to him,” Fetterman said. “And the Trump campaign is going to perhaps continue to lie about the conditions on the ground. But it’s not going to change anything. Everyone knows how this movie is going to end, including the President.” 

12:12 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Philadelphia County's election certification coming "later today," official says

From CNN's Mark Morales

Philadelphia, the largest county in Pennsylvania, is expected to certify its election results by the end of the day, according to Al Schmidt, a Republican city commissioner who is among those responsible for overseeing the election process.  

Philadelphia County represents the largest swath of votes in Pennsylvania and leaned heavily in President-elect Joe Biden’s favor. 

“Philadelphia county will be certifying the election results later today,” City Commissioner Al Schmidt told CNN’s Kate Bolduan. “There’s been no shortage of litigation. Given its lack of merit, one can only assume it’s intended to try to delay or disrupt things but that is obviously not going to happen.”

Republicans in Pennsylvania meanwhile are asking a state court to step in on an emergency basis to stop the vote certification there.

The lawsuit was filed by GOP Rep. Mike Kelly and others on Saturday. It alleges that Pennsylvania's allowance of universal, no-excuse mail-in balloting was unconstitutional. The lawsuit seeks an immediate halt to the certification process and an invalidation of all mail-in ballots.

12:43 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

GOP senator criticizes Trump for pressuring state lawmakers ahead of vote certification

From CNN's Ali Main

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After first congratulating President-elect Joe Biden for his win over the weekend, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey criticized President Trump for reaching out to state lawmakers in his attempt to block or delay the certification process in key states as part of a long-shot effort to overturn his election defeat through the Electoral College. 

"The idea that a sitting president would try to ... I don't know pressure, cajole, persuade state legislators to dismiss the will of their voters and select their own group of electors and send them to the Electoral College ... that's completely inconsistent with any kind of truly democratic society so that shouldn't be going on in my view," Toomey told CNBC on Monday morning.

The Pennsylvania Republican reiterated his belief that the President has exhausted his legal options in his home state, adding that he thought the same was true in Georgia and Michigan.

"Among the most fundamental aspects of our Republic and a democratic system is to accept the outcome of elections," Toomey said.

He noted that he has spoken with his Senate colleagues and has reached out to the White House about his concerns.

Asked if he felt he was a lone voice among his conference, Toomey said, "I don't like to characterize how my colleagues feel about these things but I can assure you I am not alone in this view among Republican senators." He did not say who he had talked with or elaborate further.

Despite his criticism, Toomey said he did not regret supporting Trump for reelection, warning of a "very, very scary and radical shift to the left" in the Democratic party.

12:06 p.m. ET, November 23, 2020

Republican senator calls for transition to begin

From CNN's Manu Raju

Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, called for the presidential transition to formally begin despite President Trump continuing to deny the results of the election.

In an op-ed he wrote for The Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday, Portman said:

"There is no evidence as of now of any widespread fraud or irregularities that would change the result in any state."

"I voted for President Trump, was a co-chair of his campaign in Ohio, and I believe his policies would be better for Ohio and the country. But I also believe that there is no more sacred constitutional process in our great democracy than the orderly transfer of power after a presidential election. It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward," he added.

Portman expressed his belief that if Trump's legal challenges extend beyond certification deadlines, it could cause "unprecedented uncertainty and raise serious constitutional questions."

"Donald Trump is our president until Jan. 20, 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on Day One of a new administration for the challenges we face," Portman said, noting Biden should have access to intelligence briefings and briefings on vaccine distribution plans.

However, Portman did not actually acknowledge that Biden is the President-elect.