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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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.