The latest on Biden's transition

By Meg Wagner, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020
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3:46 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

Some Republican senators slam Texas lawsuit after more than 100 House GOP members sign on

From CNN's Manu Raju and Daniella Diaz

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is seen in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, December 2.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is seen in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, December 2. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Several Republican senators on Friday weighed in on a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the results of the election.

More than 100 House GOP members signed on to an amicus brief backing Texas. The signatories include several lawmakers from the four states from which Trump and Texas are trying to throw out millions of votes: four from Georgia, four from Michigan, seven from Pennsylvania and one from Wisconsin.

Moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was disappointed by the Texas lawsuit to overturn the election.

"I am really surprised and disappointed that 43 days before everything is to be certified that there would be an effort by members, effort by states that are not even impacted in the sense of the challenges," she said. 

She added she would be surprised if she got a petition sent to her office.

"I don't think they would send one to my office. I would certainly hope not. Because that meant they haven't seen my statements which I have clearly said President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris are going to be beginning a new administration in January," she said.

Asked about his House GOP colleagues joining the amicus brief, including Rep. Steve Scalise, Sen. John Cornyn asked, "Did they read it?" before laughing.

"I'm for people seeking recourse," he said, adding that he looks forward to seeing the Supreme Court decision when it happens.

When asked if he’s aligning himself legally with the lawsuit, close Trump ally Sen. Mike Braun responded, “I just haven’t made my mind up yet.”

“You know I’ve all along said that I want the process to play out and I’m just watching it, observing, not sure what’s going to happen, I’m anxious to see if the Supreme Court is going to hear it, I think they should,” he said.

When asked about the Texas lawsuit, retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander said, "I’m never surprised by the House of Representatives" and laughed. 

And Sen. Joni Ernst dodged questions on if she's supportive. "I think it's important all vote be counted," she said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Steve Daines told CNN he was supportive of the lawsuit.

"Montana has joined it and I'm glad to see why," Daines said, adding he supports it. "I have great confidence in the United State Supreme Court ... and we'll wait to see what the Court rules."

11:15 a.m. ET, December 11, 2020

Biden and Harris were named Time Person of the Year. Here's how the President-elect is reacting.

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

President-elect Joe Biden said he's honored to be named Time magazine's Person of the Year alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. He tweeted that he's "grateful" to be on a list with "so many extraordinary folks."

Earlier today, Time magazine announced it had named Biden and Harris 2020's Person of the Year.

The two made history on November 7 when they beat Trump in a bitter election that put him in a small club of presidents who served only one term. Harris on that day became the country's first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.

Meanwhile, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan was named Businessperson of the Year. The video chat service spiked in popularity amid a health crisis that forced people to work and learn from home.

In the category of Guardians of the Year, Time named activists Assa Traoré, Porche Bennett-Bey and racial-justice organizers; frontline health workers fighting the pandemic; and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

3:46 p.m. ET, December 11, 2020

Texas files response to Supreme Court, meaning the justices may rule at any time

From CNN's Dan Berman

The Supreme Court building is seen on December 7.
The Supreme Court building is seen on December 7. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Texas on Friday filed its reply to the Supreme Court, defending its lawsuit against the four states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden. 

The move now means that the Justices can act on the lawsuit at any time.

Some background on this lawsuit: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit Tuesday. The President on Wednesday filed a motion to intervene — basically a request to join the lawsuit, asking for the same result. Seventeen GOP states are backing the effort as well.

The Republicans want, essentially, to swing the election to Trump. They're asking for the court to block the electors from Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, pushing Biden back under the magic 270-vote total to win.

9:17 a.m. ET, December 11, 2020

In tweet calling on SCOTUS to overturn election, Trump appears to acknowledge his loss 

From CNN's Allie Malloy

President Donald Trump is pictured in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 7.
President Donald Trump is pictured in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 7. Patrick Semansky/AP

President Trump has already had a busy morning on Twitter, going after two of his appointees, and is now attempting to claim that the Supreme Court should intervene in the presidential election because, as he says, “the Biden Administration will be a scandal plagued mess.”

There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the Biden campaign or transition. President-elect Biden’s son, Hunter — who is not a part of his father’s administration — is being investigated for his own business dealings. Joe Biden is not implicated.

Trump also appears to acknowledge his election loss in the tweet referring to the "Biden administration" in a future tense.

Trump wrote:

“Now that the Biden Administration will be a scandal plagued mess for years to come, it is much easier for the Supreme Court of the United States to follow the Constitution and do what everybody knows has to be done. They must show great Courage & Wisdom. Save the USA!!!”
8:37 a.m. ET, December 11, 2020

Key things to know about the Supreme Court lawsuit from Texas and Trump challenging Biden's win

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue and Dan Berman

The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on December 7.
The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on December 7. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Although all 50 states have certified their election results and although the Supreme Court swiftly rejected an emergency request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block election results in the commonwealth, the justices are now grappling with a new controversial bid from Texas, supported by President Trump and 17 other Republican-led states.

They are asking the Supreme Court for an emergency order to invalidate the ballots of millions of voters in four battleground states — Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

Critics of the President and his allies say the case reflects an audacious and legally dubious gambit to keep the lawsuits flowing in order to prolong baseless claims that President-elect Joe Biden's victory was somehow illegitimate.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Who is suing? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit Tuesday. The President on Wednesday filed a motion to intervene — basically a request to join the lawsuit, asking for the same result. Seventeen GOP states are backing the effort as well.
  • What do the Republicans want? Essentially, to swing the election to Trump. They're asking for the court to block the electors from Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, pushing Biden back under the magic 270-vote total to win. First the court would have to allow Paxton to file the suit. Then the court would have to block certification of the Electoral College vote, determine that the four states had allowed massive amounts of "illegal" votes, have the states revisit their vote counts and then resubmit the numbers. The court could also, Trump's filing suggests, let state legislatures determine who wins each state or throw the entire election to the US House of Representatives, where each state delegation would have one vote -- and since Republican delegations outnumber Democratic delegations, Trump would win.
  • Is there any precedent? No. "In a nutshell the President is asking the Supreme Court to exercise its rarest form of jurisdiction to effectively overturn the entire presidential election," said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas Law School professor.
  • The Supreme Court has 6 conservatives. Does that guarantee Trump will win? No. The court has thus far shown no desire to intervene in the presidential election. On Tuesday, it rejected the plea from Pennsylvania Republicans to invalidate the state's presidential tallies. It issued one sentence and noted zero dissents. (Justices don't always have to make their votes public.) Trump has suggested publicly that he hopes his nominees -- Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch -- will side with him on any election dispute. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are also ones to watch. No justice is required to recuse him or herself from the dispute; Barrett, notably, did not recuse herself in the Pennsylvania lawsuit.

Read more here.

8:33 a.m. ET, December 11, 2020

These are Biden's top contenders for attorney general

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Evan Perez

From left: Sen. Doug Jones, Judge Merrick Garland and Sally Yates
From left: Sen. Doug Jones, Judge Merrick Garland and Sally Yates Getty Images

The role of attorney general remains the biggest outstanding position in the Cabinet yet to be named by President-elect Joe Biden.

Three leading contenders for the post are: Sen. Doug Jones, Judge Merrick Garland and Sally Yates, people familiar with the matter say, after Jeh Johnson informed allies late Tuesday he would not be serving in the Biden administration.

Here are key things to know about the possible contenders:

  • Jones: The Alabama senator who lost his race in November, is seen as the leading candidate to run the Department of Justice, people close to the matter say, particularly given his long-standing friendship with Biden and his strong civil rights record. He also fits a pattern developing among several key Cabinet nominees: Biden is turning to people with whom he has strong relationships, are seen as competent and could face an easier road to confirmation."All signs point to Doug Jones," a person close to the Biden transition tells CNN, but noted that Biden had not informed candidates of his final decision.
  • Garland: The judge has also been under consideration for weeks. Some people close to the process say his candidacy has become more serious over the last week and he remains an option. Yet his nomination also faces more challenges than Jones, including a more complicated confirmation battle, the vacancy it would create on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and questions from civil rights groups. Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the final year of the Obama administration
  • Yates: A former deputy attorney general, would also likely face a more difficult confirmation than Jones. As a 30-year career official at Justice, it's also an open question whether she is best suited to lead the department in the post-Trump era. During her time as deputy attorney general, she stood by while then-FBI Director James Comey, who reported directly to her, repeatedly violated Justice Department policy in handling the Hillary Clinton email probe.

CNN has previously reported that Lisa Monaco, a former Homeland Security adviser in the Obama White House who worked closely with Biden on his vice presidential search, is also under consideration for the attorney general post. Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor and former civil rights chief at the Justice Department, was also being considered.

A Biden transition official said a decision had not yet been made and a formal announcement is not expected this week.

Read more here.

8:05 a.m. ET, December 11, 2020

Electors will formally cast votes on Monday. Here are key dates to watch until Biden's inauguration.

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf and Will Mullery

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, meet in their respective states and vote for president and vice president once the popular vote totals are completely counted and certified. The electors are set to meet Monday to cast their votes for US president.

These electors are collectively referred to as the Electoral College, and their votes are then forwarded to the president of the Senate, who counts them in a joint session of Congress after the new year. 

Here's a look at some key dates from now until Inauguration Day:

Monday

  • Electoral votes 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 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. 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. 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.