Biden's transition moves ahead

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 5:00 a.m. ET, December 2, 2020
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12:20 p.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Biden is receiving the president's daily intelligence brief at his home near Wilmington today

From CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Alex Marquardt

Carolyn Kaster/AP
Carolyn Kaster/AP

President-elect Joe Biden is receiving his first intelligence briefing from his home outside Wilmington today, people familiar with the matter tell CNN.

This is the first sign we have that his house has been retrofitted — again — for classified briefings.

It’s the first time Biden is receiving the briefing, known as the PDB, in nearly four years. He routinely received the briefing as vice president.

The PDB contains the daily collection of analysis and information that the intelligence community believes the President and his most senior national security staff need to start the day — it's been called the newspaper with the world's smallest circulation.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will get the same briefing on Monday with Biden, the transition team said Wednesday, ending the strange situation where she, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had access to more classified intelligence than the President-elect. 

President Trump, who has refused to concede the election, relented only last week on his initial refusal to allow Biden access to the nation's most vital intelligence.

1:07 p.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Georgia's secretary of state says “dishonest actors” are misleading Trump on fraud claims

From CNN’s Jason Morris and Tori Apodaca

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta on November 30.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta on November 30. Brynn Anderson/AP

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that “the truth matters,” and pushed back against the “massive” spigot of election disinformation being spread by President Trump and Republicans. 

Taking aim at his fellow Republicans, Raffensperger said at a news conference at the Georgia Capitol that “massive amounts of misinformation” about the election were “being spread by dishonest actors.”

“There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation, and frankly they are misleading the President as well, apparently,” he said. 

Raffensperger also rebutted numerous lies that Trump has pushed about massive election fraud in Georgia and elsewhere, and said that the post-election audit and ongoing recount prove that the election was fair. 

“Once this recount is complete, everyone in Georgia will be able to have even more confidence in the results of our elections,” he said, adding that the recount is on track to finish by the Wednesday night deadline.

Raffensperger also said his office will continue to investigate any credible claims of illegal voting and any violations of state election law. 

According to Raffensperger, there are currently over 250 open cases of election irregularities still being investigated from 2020.  Nearly 5 million votes were cast statewide.

Remember: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, which Biden won by more than 12,000 votes.

Separately, during the recount, a software problem slowed things down in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta. Election officials said Monday that this was no proof of any improprieties and that the mishap with the Dominion Voting Systems software was caused by local officials who did not follow instructions.

The incident fueled conspiracy theories online because Trump himself and GOP lawyers have perpetuated false conspiracy theories that Dominion orchestrated a nationwide vote-rigging scheme to help Biden.


11:15 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Yellen says she will work "towards rebuilding" the American Dream for all as Treasury Secretary

From CNN’s Jasmine Wright, Jeff Zeleny, Dan Merica and Gregory Krieg

Janet Yellen, then chair of the Federal Reserve, listens to a question during a news conference in Washington, DC, on December 13, 2017.
Janet Yellen, then chair of the Federal Reserve, listens to a question during a news conference in Washington, DC, on December 13, 2017. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Janet Yellen, who was nominated by President-elect Joe Biden this morning to become the Secretary of Treasury, just reacted on Twitter to the news.

“We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream—a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children," Yellen tweeted.

"As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all," she continued.

If confirmed, the former chair of the Federal Reserve would be the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary.

Yellen will be tasked with helping lead Biden's economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on the economy and led millions of Americans to lose their jobs.

She will also be asked to make good on the former vice president's campaign promise to narrow the economic disparities between the rich and middle class and poor Americans.

10:56 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Republican responsible for overseeing inauguration says he'd like to see Trump at the event

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Sen. Roy Blunt speaks during a hearing in Washington, DC, on July 2.
Sen. Roy Blunt speaks during a hearing in Washington, DC, on July 2. Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

When President Trump lost this year's election to Joe Biden, almost nobody around him said they could envision the losing incumbent attending his successor's inauguration.

The image remains implausible for a President who will likely never concede and said Sunday that nothing would convince him he lost.

Yet Republicans and aides to Trump are encouraging him to at least consider attending Biden's swearing-in, hoping his presence will both reflect well on his character and help preserve his future influence but also convince Americans the election was fair.

"I hope the President is there on Inaugural Day," Sen. Roy Blunt, the Missouri Republican who is responsible for overseeing January's inauguration, told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" on Sunday.

Blunt, who declined to call Biden the president-elect, still said it was "likely" the former vice president would be sworn in on January 20. He said he was "continuing to work to see what we can do to have both the President there and have Vice President Biden there, likely sworn in on that day."

Like others around Trump who are worried his ever-devolving conspiracies about the election could damage both his own standing and the position of Republicans going forward, Blunt appealed to the prospect that Trump could retain more influence if he departs the White House with dignity.

"I think there's a big role for President Trump," Blunt said. "I hope he embraces that and looks at how you move to whatever comes next for him assuming that this election works out the way it appears it will."

Whether the outgoing president takes that advice remains unknown. Trump has performed none of the traditional steps of an outgoing commander-in-chief, including inviting Biden for a meeting in the Oval Office or even phoning him with any kind of conciliatory message.

Speaking in an interview on Sunday, Trump declined to offer a timeline for when he might ease up his losing battle to overturn the election results. And he admitted that even if Biden enters office, he will remain unconvinced he lost.


10:06 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Biden nominates former Fed Chair Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary

From CNN’s Jasmine Wright

Janet Yellen, then chair of the Federal Reserve, speaks during a briefing in Washington, DC, on December 13, 2017.
Janet Yellen, then chair of the Federal Reserve, speaks during a briefing in Washington, DC, on December 13, 2017. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has just announced the key members of his economic team, rounding out another diverse group of nominees.

Janet Yellen will become the Secretary of Treasury, if confirmed, and Neera Tanden would become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to a release from the transition. Yellen, if confirmed, would be the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary.

They also announced Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo as deputy secretary of the Treasury, Cecilia Rouse for Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey to become members of the Council of Economic Advisers. If confirmed, Adeyemo would be the first Black deputy Treasury Secretary.

This release confirms CNN's reporting that Biden would tap Yellen for the Treasury position and Adeyemo for the number two spot.

“This team is comprised of respected and tested groundbreaking public servants who will help the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and address the structural inequities in our economy,” a statement from Biden included in the release said.
9:53 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Sen. Mark Kelly will be sworn in this week, bringing the GOP majority down to 52-48

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Manu Raju

Mark Kelly speaks to supporters on November 3 in Tucson, Arizona.
Mark Kelly speaks to supporters on November 3 in Tucson, Arizona. Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Senator-elect Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona, will be sworn in as a US senator at noon ET on Wednesday, according to a senior Democratic aide. 

Kelly defeated Republican Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona's special election.

9:46 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

How Inauguration Day is adapting due to the pandemic

From CNN's Kate Bennett and Lauren Fox

The White House is pictured at dusk on November 25.
The White House is pictured at dusk on November 25. Patrick Semansky/AP

Outside President Trump's bedroom window on the north side of the White House is the sound of building: hammers, drills, the beep-beep of trucks backing up and metal planks clanking into place.

Construction of the parade platform for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration festivities is well underway. The viewing stand and bleachers are almost complete and each day they get closer to being done — all within Trump's view —as it becomes clearer his days in the White House are coming to a close.

Despite the uncertainty of the coronavirus and Trump's waning attempts to overturn the election, the structure is a growing reminder of the transition now in motion.

Whatever else must change to accommodate the pandemic, people are getting ready for Biden's inauguration come January, which will likely reflect the President-elect's cautious, science-driven approach to the pandemic.

What's more, the outgoing president may not even go to the incoming president's swearing-in. Three White House officials familiar with Trump's moods and patterns speculate he won't be there for the hand-off.

"I can't foresee a scenario where he goes and that tradition carries on as normal," one of the officials tells CNN.

No doubt, the pomp and circumstance will be noticeably different this time around, according to interviews with multiple aides and administration officials, from the White House to Capitol Hill to the DC mayor's office. The future of the traditional luncheon in Statuary Hall is up in the air, and it's unlikely a choir behind the new President will be feasible.

The expectation is the inauguration will be smaller, too, and attendees will have to wear masks and maintain social distance within the ticketed parameters.

The congressional committee tasked with choreographing the festivities at the Capitol has tried to map out plans for a range of scenarios with consultation from medical experts, aides say.

The committee has been in an awkward limbo since Election Day, as Trump's refusal to accept his loss mounted. While unable to dive-in exclusively with Biden's team, the committee has spent the last several months making plans for whoever won the election. Aides maintained neutrality in recent weeks as Trump's denial dragged on, communicating with both his and Biden's teams as to what the options could be for Jan. 20.

Read more here.

9:04 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Georgia's Fulton County will resume recount this morning after server crash

From CNN's Jason Morris 

Georgia's Fulton County is expected to resume its presidential recount today after experiencing delays on Sunday due to a machine server crash. 

In a statement from Fulton County Registration and Elections, a newly purchased Dominion mobile server crashed. Technicians from Dominion were dispatched to resolve the issue, the county said. However, it is unclear at this time whether those issues have been fixed. 

Fulton County officials says they are working to ensure the recount is done by the deadline "with the greatest efficiency and accuracy as possible." 

The county says 88% of the ballots have been counted. This includes all absentee, early in person and provisional ballots, the statement said. 

The deadline for all votes to be counted statewide is Wednesday at midnight.

Remember: Georgia conducted another recount of its presidential ballots following a Trump campaign request. President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner Nov. 20 when the state certified the results. Because the margin was still less than 0.5%, the President could request a recount after certification of the results. 

Georgia had already conducted an audit of the presidential ballots, meaning all ballots in the presidential race were counted a second time — which was a defacto recount.

8:59 a.m. ET, November 30, 2020

Biden unveils senior leadership team charged with planning inauguration

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris just announced the senior leadership of the committee charged with planning and executing what will be an unprecedented presidential inauguration set to take place during a global pandemic. 

Here's who Biden selected:

  • Tony Allen, who worked in the past as Biden’s speechwriter when he was a senator, will take the helm as chief executive officer. Allen, who the inauguration team says will serve in his personal capacity, is currently the president of Delaware State University, an historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).
  • Maju Varghese will serve as executive director. Varghese was chief operating officer and senior advisor on Biden’s campaign beginning in the primaries. 
  • Erin Wilson and Yvanna Cancela will both serve as deputy executive directors. Wilson comes to the position with experience serving on Biden’s campaign as the national political director throughout the primary and general election. Cancela, a Nevada state senator, voiced her support for Biden early in the presidential race and remained a constant presence at his campaign events in the caucus state throughout the election. 

According to CNN's reporting on Inauguration Day plans, the expectation is the event will be smaller and attendees will have to wear masks and maintain social distance within the ticketed parameters.