Electoral College vote affirms Biden's win

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

Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT) December 15, 2020
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6:14 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Trump is not moving in direction of publicly accepting Biden's win, source says

From CNN's Jim Acosta

President Trump is not moving in the direction of publicly accepting the election results, despite the Electoral College's historic meeting to put President-elect Joe Biden over the top, said a source close to the White House, who speaks regularly with the President.

Some White House advisers have noted that Trump has privately acknowledged that he won't be staying at the White House for a second term, even as he attempts to overturn the election results in court and siphons money from his base off bogus claims of voter fraud. 

A separate White House adviser mocked the suggestion made by some Republican officials, including White House domestic policy aide Stephen Miller, that the GOP send "alternate" slates of electors to Congress to be tallied on Jan. 6.

"Whatever," the adviser said, dismissing the strategy.

The adviser said people close to Trump continue to see it as highly unlikely that the outgoing President will attend Biden's inauguration. "He won't," the adviser said of the current thinking inside Trump's circle of allies.

6:07 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Trump tweets Barr is "leaving" White House

From CNN's Allie Malloy, Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins 

After California clinched the Electoral College victory for President-elect Joe Biden, President Trump tweeted that his Attorney General William Barr will be "leaving" the White House "just before Christmas."

"Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family...," the President tweeted.

Trump said Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen would become acting attorney general.

A White House official said Barr was not forced out or fired. "He wasn't asked to resign," the official said, insisting there were no fireworks during their meeting this afternoon. "It was a very amicable meeting," the official said.

The official noted there were frustrations with Barr that may have risen to the level of discussing firing Barr. But the official said this was a very different situation — not like when other secretaries have been fired, the official insisted. 

Trump had discussed firing Barr as recently as yesterday, a separate source said, despite how laudatory Barr’s resignation letter is. 

Here's a look at Barr's letter:

5:45 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

GOP senator says efforts to challenge Biden's win in Congress are "not going anywhere"

From CNN's Ted Barrett, Manu Raju and Daniella Diaz 

Senate Majority Whip John Thune
Senate Majority Whip John Thune Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/AP/FILE

Senate Majority Whip John Thune said that Joe Biden is President-elect once he crosses 270 electoral votes and says efforts to challenge the results in Congress are “not going anywhere.” He said “it’s time for everybody to move on” after today.

Moments ago, Biden won electoral votes to officially clinch the presidency after California’s electors awarded him the state’s 55 electoral votes.

"Now that the electoral college has acted, are you prepared to call Biden President-elect?" CNN asked Thune today.

"Well I mean, once somebody gets 270, I understand they're ruling right now, but I think that's the process we have, yes," he replied.

Here's how the rest of the exchange went:

Q: You have no doubts?

Thune: "As soon as he crosses the 270 vote threshold, I mean there are still a couple of, I guess, last steps in the process, but in my view that's how in this country we decide presidential elections, that's our Constitution, and I believe in following the Constitution."

Q: Challenge electoral votes?

Thune: "It's their prerogative, it's allowed for in the Constitution, but it's not going anywhere. It's an opportunity for people to vent and protest, but in the end we have a clear way of determining a president, those steps have been adhered to, they've been followed, either the House can choose to do that, (inaudible)."

5:51 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

The Electoral College just confirmed Biden's victory. Here's what comes next.

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Monday's Electoral College vote is not the final step in the constitutional process of selecting a president. The votes cast on Monday are sent to Congress, where they will be counted on Jan. 6 in a joint session led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Many congressional Republicans who have refused thus far to say that Biden won the election have claimed they are waiting for Monday's Electoral College vote to certify the results. But some of Trump's staunchest House Republican allies are preparing for a floor fight when the votes are counted in Congress next month.

Lawmakers can dispute a state's election result when the votes are counted next month. But a challenge can only be considered if both a House member and a senator sign onto it. So far only House Republicans have said they will contest the results, although some GOP senators have suggested they are considering joining.

Even if a senator signs on to challenge the results, it's only delaying the inevitable. In that case, the House and Senate separately debate the matter for two hours and vote on it. Democrats control the House, and enough GOP senators have already said they reject Trump's claims of fraud that a challenge would not succeed there either.

After the state electors cast their ballots on Monday, those results will be certified and sent to Congress, the National Archives and to the courts.

On Jan. 20, a new president takes the oath of office at noon.

Read more about the next steps here.

5:38 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Biden formally clinches Electoral College victory with California's 55 votes

From CNN's Marshall Cohen and Ethan Cohen

Pool/KCRA
Pool/KCRA

President-elect Joe Biden has received enough electoral votes to officially clinch the presidency, a major milestone that he reached when California’s electors awarded him the state’s 55 electoral votes at their meeting Monday in Sacramento. 

CNN projected five weeks ago that Biden would win the White House, but his victory was formalized Monday after presidential electors gathered in statehouses across the country as part of the Constitutional process to officially elect a President. 

This development is a crushing blow to President Trump’s controversial and unprecedented attempts to block Biden's victory in the Electoral College by filing longshot lawsuits and pressuring lawmakers in battleground states to overturn millions of legal votes.

In California, Biden won more than 63% of the statewide vote, while Trump earned about 34%.

Democrats have won California’s electoral votes every cycle since 1992. The state voted for Republicans in the six presidential elections before that. 

About the process: The meeting of electors is the next major step in the Electoral College process to affirm the general election results. Electors are required by law to vote for president and vice president on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, which this year is today. It takes 270 electoral votes of the 538 available to become president.

Watch the moment:

5:08 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Oregon casts its 7 electoral votes for Biden

From CNN's David Wright and Adam Levy

Oregon’s electors cast seven electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden during their meeting on Monday in Salem.

Biden won Oregon, a reliably blue state, by about 16 points in 2020.  

The meeting of electors is the next major step in the Electoral College process to affirm the general election results. Electors are required by law to vote for president and vice president on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, which this year is today.

It takes 270 electoral votes of the 538 available to become president. 

5:01 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

California votes in 5 p.m. ET hour and is expected to put Biden over the 270 total 

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

California's electors vote around 5 p.m. ET, and are expected to put President-elect Joe Biden over the 270 total needed to win the White House.

Earlier today, the battleground states of Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin all sealed election victories for Biden as electors for all 50 states and the District of Columbia met in each state.

Hawaii will be the last state to cast its votes at 7 p.m. ET.

5:23 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Nebraska elector describes what it was like to cast the sole vote for Biden from the state

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Precious McKesson
Precious McKesson CNN

Precious McKesson was the sole elector in Nebraska to cast the vote for President-elect Joe Biden today.

Nebraska is one of only two states that splits its electoral college votes. The Electoral College cast four votes for Trump and one for Biden.

"It was so monumental to be in a room with so many of my close friends and families and supporters. And when I walked in they started cheering me. It was an honor to do it today," McKesson told CNN's Dana Bash.

McKesson, who is the first woman of color to cast an electoral vote for a Democrat in the state, also explained why she became emotional when she cast a vote for the first woman and first Black vice president. "It meant so much," she said.

"It meant so much for many women who every day fight this good fight to make sure that our democracy is not taken for granted. And so to be able to cast that vote for Kamala Harris today, it meant the world to me. And I'm just so happy that I was able to do that, especially here in Nebraska. And we're just excited to see what the future holds and we can't wait until January 20th when they're worn in," she said.

McKesson also discussed how she was elected as the elector to cast the Democratic vote.

"Prior to me going to work for the Biden/Harris campaign, I do sit as the Black Caucus chair as well as the state Legislative District Holder. Before I'm able to work for them, we had the state convention and you have to go in front of your congressional district and you have to actually ask for them to nominate you and to vote for you. And so, I went in front of my peers and told them I felt that this would be the time for number one, a woman of color and a woman to cast that vote and they voted for me to be able to be the one to represent Congressional District 2."

Watch the full interview with McKesson:

4:53 p.m. ET, December 14, 2020

Your questions, answered: How challenges in Congress to the Electoral College's reported results could unfold 

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

CNN's Zachary B. Wolf is answering questions from readers about the Electoral College. You can ask your question here.

Here's a question from Cathy in Hawaii:

I am seeing conflicting information about what happens if conditions are met that require the two chambers of Congress to meet separately to consider a challenge by a congressional member to the results of the Electoral College's reported results. One reports that each chamber would then meet separately from the other to consider, then vote, with each senator and each representative having one vote, whether to support the challenge or not. In this scenario, Joe Biden would likely prevail. The other reports that each chamber would do the same EXCEPT in the House each state will have only one vote, not each representative – which would mean Trump would likely prevail. Which is correct? And would you provide a link to the description of this process of the laws covering such a possibility in our Constitution? 

Thank you for this very detailed and incredibly important technical question. Let me start at the end, where you ask for specific links to US law. Here’s a link to Title 3, section 15 of US Code, “Counting Electoral Votes in Congress,” which is about as impenetrable of legalese as you’re likely to see.

To your point, let me clarify the smart issue you’re raising:

  1. It is expected that House Republicans will object to the electoral vote count after it takes place Jan. 6. After the votes are counted by Vice President Mike Pence – in his capacity as president of the Senate – and he announces the winner, lawmakers have the ability to raise objections.
  2. If a senator joins in one or more of these objections, then the House and Senate go to their respective chambers and consider the objections. 
  3. If both chambers sustain the objections, a state’s electors could be discarded.

Ultimately, if electoral votes cast today are rejected this way, and as a result Biden doesn’t get 270 electoral votes, then the House picks the next president. And, as you note, House members would vote as state delegations in this process to pick the President — 50 total votes.

But the question is about the objections by which Republicans would seek votes to discard electoral votes. In these votes would they vote as state delegations or as members of Congress. If they vote as states, that benefits Republicans, who control more state delegations. If they vote as individuals, with 435 total votes, that benefits Democrats, since they hold a majority in the House.

The answer is that they would vote as individual members and Democrats should be able to defeat any objection. 

Here's why: While law linked above does not say specifically how congresspeople would vote, these objections about electoral votes have been raised twice before and in both instances, the House voted as a 435-member body, according to footnotes in this Congressional Research Service report.

In 1969, an objection was raised about a faithless elector who voted for George Wallace. The House and Senate both considered it and the House voted as a 435-member body. In 2004, California Sen. Barbara Boxer and Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones – both Democrats — objected to the electoral votes from the decisive state of Ohio. Again, the House voted as 435-member body.

It’s not at all clear how many Republicans in either the House or the Senate would vote to ignore voters and prop up a second Trump administration.