Biden begins transition plans as Trump refuses to concede

By Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT) November 10, 2020
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6:40 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse congratulates Biden

From CNN's Ted Barrett

 Hilary Swift/Pool/Getty Images/FILE
 Hilary Swift/Pool/Getty Images/FILE

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has offered his congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a statement to the Omaha World-Herald.

“Melissa and I congratulate the next president, Joe Biden, and the next vice president, Kamala Harris,” the Nebraska lawmaker said in a statement to the paper. “Today in our house we pray for both President Trump and President-Elect Biden, that both would be wise in the execution of their respective duties during this important time in our nation.”

The statement to the paper also said: “Despite the policy differences many of us will have with the incoming administration, every American’s civic responsibilities are the same: root for every president’s success, work together where we can, and debate passionately and respectfully.”

More on this: Sasse is the fourth Republican senator to acknowledge the President-elect's victory. Maine Sen. Susan Collins issued a statement earlier today and offered congratulations to Biden and Harris. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney has vocally congratulated the Biden-Harris ticket, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski also released a statement this weekend congratulating them. 

6:00 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Fauci says his goal is to serve the American people and he has "no intention of leaving"


When asked if he would stay in government after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated in January, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has "no intention of leaving."

"This is an important job. I've been doing it now for a very long time. I've been doing it under six presidents. It's an important job and my goal is to serve the American public no matter what the administration is," he told CNN on Monday.

He said the last time he talked to President Trump was when he was in Walter Reed Medical Center being treated for Covid-19.

He did not comment on whether he has talked to Biden, saying "I would prefer not to talk about any of that."

"I want to focus on what I'm doing now with regard to getting a vaccine and getting this country well in the sense of towards normality, which I think we are able to get this with this vaccine. That's really what I want to talk about," he said.

Some background: Drugmaker Pfizer announced today that an early look at data from its coronavirus vaccine shows it is more than 90% effective – something Fauci says is very good news, calling it "extraordinary."

"This is something that we should really feel good about, but I want to make sure people understand that it's good because we know there is light at the end of the tunnel but that doesn't mean that we are going to give up the important public health measures that we continually still have to do every single day," he said.

5:34 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Esper responds to Trump in letter, saying "I accept your decision to replace me"

From CNN's Ryan Browne

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper responded to President Trump’s decision to fire him in a letter dated Monday, which said “I serve the country in deference to the Constitution, so I accept your decision to replace me.”

“I step aside knowing there is much we achieved at the Defense Department over the last eighteen months to protect the nation and improve the readiness, capabilities, and professionalism of the joint force, while fundamentally transforming and preparing the military for the future,” Esper said in the letter, a copy of which has been obtained by CNN.

The tone of the letter is largely diplomatic and includes a list of accomplishments that Esper says occurred during his tenure, avoiding any major criticism of Trump or his policies, a departure from the resignation letter submitted by Esper’s predecessor James Mattis.

5:26 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Nevada registrar disputes GOP voter fraud claims: "We have answers for everything"

From CNN’s Stephanie Becker

Joe Gloria, the Clark County registrar of voters
Joe Gloria, the Clark County registrar of voters KTNV

The registrar of voters in Nevada’s most populous county disputed claims made by the Nevada GOP of rampant voter fraud in the election, saying “we have answers for everything that have been brought forward.” 

Joe Gloria, the Clark County registrar of voters, told reporters at a news conference Monday he had submitted all of the allegations made by the GOP to the Secretary of State’s office to be investigated.

"There are too many of them at this point for me to address them all,” he said, when asked for details. 

The Secretary of State’s office, headed by Republican Barbara Cegavske, has refused to comment on any ongoing investigations. But the state's attorney general, Aaron Ford, a Democrat, tweeted Monday that “Nevada does not have widespread voter fraud.”

President-elect Joe Biden continues to maintain his lead over President Trump in Nevada by 36,186 votes.

In Clark County, home to Las Vegas and about 70% of all active registered voters in the state, the “bulk” of all mail-in ballots have now been counted, Gloria said. Tuesday is the last day mail-in ballots can be received and counted. 

About 60,000 provisional ballots are still being processed and won’t be counted until at least Thursday, Gloria said.

In past years, officials typically received a few thousand provisional ballots, but this year with a mostly mail-in election, the number has skyrocketed. The county needs to wait for approval from the Secretary of State’s office to start counting those ballots, after making sure those voters didn’t vote in another county.

4:26 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Schumer invites Biden's Covid-19 advisory board co-chair to brief Senate Democrats tomorrow

From CNN's Manu Raju

Dr. Vivek Murthy posing for a portrait in 2018.
Dr. Vivek Murthy posing for a portrait in 2018. Lane Turner/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has invited the newly named co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden's Covid-19 advisory board to address Senate Democrats Tuesday, a senior Democratic aide tells CNN.

“Per an invite from Leader Schumer, Dr. Vivek Murthy, co-Chair of President Elect Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, will brief Senate Democrats at their caucus lunch tomorrow (via phone),” the aide said. 


5:19 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Join CNN Citizen tomorrow for a conversation about the election results


Tomorrow, CNN Citizen will present "What Next, America?" a conversation about the 2020 election results and what they mean for the road ahead.

It will feature CNN's Dana Bash, David Chalian, John King and Abby Phillip.

You can reserve your spot here. It begins at 10 a.m. ET.

3:43 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

White House Covid-19 task force coordinator Deborah Birx has not been approached by Biden team

From CNN's Kate Bennett

Dr. Deborah Birx looks on after giving a network interview at the White House in Washington, DC on September 30.
Dr. Deborah Birx looks on after giving a network interview at the White House in Washington, DC on September 30. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Deborah Birx has privately told colleagues she has not yet been contacted by anyone on President-elect Biden’s team, and whether she will be staying on as a government employee in the fight against the pandemic remains up in the air.

While not publicly commenting on what her future plans could entail, Birx has privately expressed interest in keeping her current role as coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, or a similar position within a Biden-led government.

On Monday morning, Biden announced members of his new coronavirus task force and outlined his plans to combat the virus as case counts continue to balloon across the United States. 

Despite the challenges of a foreboding winter season, and a what promises to be a complicated presidential transition, Birx has indicated to friends she has no desire to give up her career as a public servant and enter the corporate world, which could certainly be an option for someone in her position. Birx has been a government employee since 1980 when she joined the Army, shortly after receiving her medical degree, and is now one of the country’s top immunologists.

A major caveat that could prevent the Biden team from reaching out to Birx thus far involves the new administration having to get permission from the current administration if it wishes to employ or officially approach anyone in the Executive Branch or any federal post.

Biden cannot technically move to form a government using current government employees until his January inauguration, unless permission from Trump is granted to do so. Trump has not conceded to Biden or publicly accepted his loss. The President continues to baselessly contest the results of the election. 

CNN reached to the White House for comment and no response thus far.

Some background: In recent months, Birx has not been at the White House as much as she was in the early days of the pandemic, choosing instead to travel the country and speak about coronavirus prevention best practices on a state and local level.

The desire to hit the road was spurred by intense clashes with Dr. Scott Atlas, the doctor Trump has most recently relied on to receive his coronavirus information, much of it not supported by scientific evidence. Birx vowed in August to never again be in a face-to-face meeting with Atlas, whose medical opinions about Covid-19 she vehemently opposes.

Though her visual presence beside Trump at news briefings has diminished – along with the briefings themselves – one person who has known Birx for more than a decade says her association with the current administration could be too strong for the new one to keep her on, despite her desire to remain.

The source reminds, however, if anyone could make a tricky transition it’s Birx, who moved from senior positions in George W. Bush’s administration to Barack Obama’s administration and then to Trump’s.

3:58 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

McConnell: Trump is "100% within his rights" to weigh his legal options

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on the senate floor in Washington, DC, on November 9.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks on the senate floor in Washington, DC, on November 9. Senate TV

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump, who still hasn't publicly accepted he lost the election, is "100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options."

"In the United States of America, all legal ballots must be counted. Any illegal ballots must not be counted. The process should be transparent — or observable — by all sides, and the courts are here to work through concerns," McConnell said while speaking on the Senate floor.

He continued:

"Our institutions are actually built for this. We have the system in place to consider concerns, and President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options."

Remember: In the days after Election Day, before CNN projected Joe Biden would win the election, Trump and his allies bombard Americans with false claims about the presidential election, baselessly asserting that Democrats were attempting to steal the election from Trump. You can read CNN's full fact check on some of those claims here.

Watch the moment:

3:02 p.m. ET, November 9, 2020

Trump adviser tapped to oversee campaign legal challenges contracts coronavirus, sources say

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kate Bennett

Citizens United President David Bossie speaks during an Arizona Republican Party news conference on November 5 in Phoenix.
Citizens United President David Bossie speaks during an Arizona Republican Party news conference on November 5 in Phoenix. Matt York/AP

Trump adviser David Bossie has tested positive for coronavirus only days after he was tapped to oversee the Trump campaign's legal challenges contesting the outcome of the election, two sources confirm to CNN. 

Bossie did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has been in the campaign headquarters in Virginia several times in the last week and has also traveled extensively.

Bloomberg News first reported the diagnosis.