The latest on Biden's transition

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 8:01 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020
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3:14 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Biden: "I have absolute confidence in" the Covid-19 vaccine

President-elect Joe Biden receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Newark, Delaware, on Monday.
President-elect Joe Biden receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Newark, Delaware, on Monday. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden continued to encourage Americans to get the Covid-19 vaccine, which he called "one of the biggest operational challenges the United States has ever faced."

"I got a chance to thank all of those nurses and docs at Christiana hospital for what they've been putting up with what they've been doing for so long. I look forward to the second shot, and I have absolute confidence in the vaccine. But we're in short supply. Taking the vaccine from a vial into the arm of millions of Americans is one of the biggest operational challenges the United States has ever faced," Biden said moments ago during a year-end message and news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden added: "And we're going to take many more months for that to happen. In the meantime, this pandemic rages on. Experts say things are going to get worse before they get better."

Some context: Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on live television Monday afternoon and reassured Americans of the vaccine's safety.

The shot, which Biden received in his left arm, was administered at ChristianaCare's Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, by Tabe Mase, who is a nurse practitioner and the head of employee health services at the hospital, according to the Biden transition team.

"We owe these folks an awful lot," Biden said, thanking those involved in the vaccine's development and distribution and front-line health care workers.

Biden said the Trump administration deserved "some credit" for Operation Warp Speed, the federal government's vaccine program, and their role in making coronavirus vaccinations possible.

"I also think that it's worth saying that this is, is great hope. I'm doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it's available, to take the vaccine. There's nothing to worry about. I'm looking forward to the second shot; so is Jill," Biden said.

Watch the moment:

3:06 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

President-elect Biden urges Americans to remain vigilant over holidays as "pandemic rages on"

From CNN's Elise Hammond and Kate Sullivan

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden said that the vaccine offers Americans hope during the pandemic, but widespread distribution of doses is "one of the biggest operational challenges the United States has ever faced."

He urged people to continue to remain vigilant with masks and social distance during the holidays because "in the meantime the pandemic rages on."

Biden delivered the remarks ahead of Christmas in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday afternoon.

"Throughout this year, we had to forego many of our favorite holiday traditions," Biden said. "Like we did over Thanksgiving, we all have to care enough for each other that we have to stay apart just a little bit longer. I know it's hard. We have a long way to go, but we're grateful that we've got the vaccine."

"This has been one of the toughest years we've ever faced as a nation," he added.

Biden said he and Jill Biden’s heart goes out to the families who feel loss during this “dark winter.”

“Our hearts go out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own I might add, unable to sleep at night, way down with the worry of what tomorrow will bring to you and for your family,” he said.

Some context: The speech comes amid a holiday season in which Americans have been advised by public health experts to not travel or gather in large groups, as coronavirus cases spike and the death toll rises across the country.

Biden also received his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on live national television on Monday and reassured Americans of the vaccine's safety.

4:11 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Biden will deliver a year-end holiday message soon. These are the topics he's expected to discuss.

From CNN’s Jeff Zeleny

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

A day after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden will deliver a year-end holiday message this afternoon at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, aides said, during what is expected to be his last formal appearance before the holidays.

His remarks are likely to be 10 minutes or less, aides say, and he is poised to address the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine distribution, as well as the economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and the cyber attack against the United States.

He is expected to take questions from reporters, aides say.

Biden is planning to remain at his home near Wilmington through the Christmas holiday.

2:45 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Alex Padilla will be the first Latino Senator to represent California

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks during a news conference in September.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks during a news conference in September. Kirby Lee/AP

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' Senate seat on Tuesday, choosing the first Latino in state history for the role.

"His appointment will make history. But the @AlexPadilla4CA I know is far more interested in changing history — especially for the working men and women of our state and country," Newsom tweeted Tuesday. "I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator."

Padilla responded to the announcement in a statement provided by the governor’s office.

"I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by Governor Newsom, and I intend to work each and every day to honor that trust and deliver for all Californians," Padilla said in the statement.

Padilla served as the state’s first Latino Secretary of State in 2015.

He will now be the first Latino Senator to represent California.

1:21 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

The Electoral College votes will be counted in Congress on Jan. 6. Here's how the process will work. 

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf and Will Mullery

Then-Vice President Joe Biden presides over the counting of the electoral votes in January 2017.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden presides over the counting of the electoral votes in January 2017. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Just as then-Vice President Joe Biden oversaw the counting of electoral votes that gave President Trump the White House in 2017, now it will be Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's loyal soldier these last four years, who will announce on Jan. 6 the vote tally that officially makes Biden the winner.

And Republicans will have to choose how deeply they want to follow Trump into his rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.

Lawmakers will have the ability to raise objections about the vote — just like some Democrats did in 2017. But while those objections were dismissed easily in 2017, Republican senators could, if they choose, drag the process out this year, and force the House and Senate to vote on individual points.

Here's a breakdown of what will take place on Jan. 6:

  • Electoral votes are counted in Congress.
  • Members of the House and the Senate will meet in the House chamber. The President of the Senate — that's Vice President Mike Pence — will preside over the session and the electoral votes will be read and counted in alphabetical order by two appointees each from the House and Senate.
  • They will then give their tallies to Pence, who will announce the results and listen for objections.
  • If there are objections, 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 to a majority — that's 270 — then the 435 members of the House decide the election. Each state gets a vote. So while there are more Democrats in the House, Republicans, as of now, control more state delegations, so it is possible the House could pick Trump even though there is a Democratic majority.
  • The House has until noon on January 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.
2:45 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Here's who will fill Kamala Harris' Senate seat 

From CNN's Cheri Mossburg and Daniella Diaz

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' Senate seat on Tuesday, choosing the first Latino in state history for the role.

"I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by Governor Newsom, and I intend to work each and every day to honor that trust and deliver for all Californians," Padilla said in a statement provided by the governor’s office.

"From those struggling to make ends meet to the small businesses fighting to keep their doors open to the health care workers looking for relief, please know that I am going to the Senate to fight for you. We will get through this pandemic together and rebuild our economy in a way that doesn’t leave working families behind," he continued in the statement.

Padilla served as the state’s first Latino Secretary of State in 2015.

Here's what Gov. Newsom said about selecting Padilla:

"The son of Mexican immigrants — a cook and house cleaner — Alex Padilla worked his way from humble beginnings to the halls of MIT, the Los Angeles City Council and the State Senate, and has become a national defender of voting rights as California’s Secretary of State. Now, he will serve in the halls of our nation’s Capitol as California’s next United States Senator, the first Latino to hold this office. Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic. He will be a Senator for all Californians."

See Gov. Newsom's announcement:

12:48 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Georgia's Senate runoff election is only 2 weeks away. Here's why the race is still too close to call. 

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

Jon Ossoff, left, is taking on US Sen. David Perdue, second from left, in one of the two runoff elections in Georgia. Raphael Warnock, second from right, is running against US Sen. Kelly Loeffler, right.
Jon Ossoff, left, is taking on US Sen. David Perdue, second from left, in one of the two runoff elections in Georgia. Raphael Warnock, second from right, is running against US Sen. Kelly Loeffler, right. Getty Images

Georgia is on every political junkie's mind in the lead up to the state's two Senate runoffs on Jan. 5.

The stakes could not be any higher, as Democrats need to win both seats to force a 50-50 Senate and gain control with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris eventually casting the tie breaking vote. A Democratic Senate chamber would also help President-elect Joe Biden more easily pass his agenda.

To win, Democrats will need to break historical precedent. But with the elections just a few weeks away, these races remain way too close to call.

That's a bit surprising because Republicans entered the runoffs as slight favorites.

Republican Senate candidates actually got more votes in both races in November. Sen. David Perdue received 49.7% of the vote, falling just short of a majority needed to win outright. Democrat Jon Ossoff came in with 48.0%, or nearly 90,000 votes behind Perdue.

The state's special Senate election doesn't follow as neat a script, though the outcome was similar. In the special election, there were no party primaries. All the Democrats and Republicans ran in one election, and the two top vote-getters (Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler) advanced to the runoff.

When you tally up all the Democratic and Republican votes, the Republican candidates got 49.4%. The Democrats got 48.4%, or nearly 50,000 votes behind the Republicans.

To win either or both races, Democrats need either to get Republican voters in November to vote for the Democrats in January, win the bulk of November third party voters or hope for a change in the relative voter turnout between Democrats and Republicans.

Read the full analysis here.

12:08 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

A review of Trump's schedule shows few official events since Election Day

From CNN's Jason Hoffman and Betsy Klein

A US Marine stands guard outside the West Wing of the White House on Monday.
A US Marine stands guard outside the West Wing of the White House on Monday. Samuel Corum/AFP/Getty Images

Today marks seven weeks since Election Day and President Trump continues to remain largely behind closed doors, focusing on ways he can overturn the results of the election.

Trump has no public events listed on his schedule Tuesday, and has not had an official White House event on his schedule since Friday.

His last public appearance was Dec. 12, when he attended the Army-Navy football game and participated in an on-camera interview with Fox News. Trump last took questions from reporters on Dec. 8.

By the numbers:

  • 24 days with no public events at all listed on Trump’s schedule since Election Day (Note: these are not consecutive days)
  • 13 public appearances open to the press since election night
  • 30 official White House business events listed on the schedule, 17 of which were closed to the press
  • 1 on-camera interview (Fox News, Dec. 12)
  • 2 public appearance where Trump took questions from reporters (Thanksgiving and the Operation Warp Speed event)
  • 9 days spent on his golf course since Election Day
12:51 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Georgia Senate candidate Ossoff casts his ballot during early voting in Atlanta

From CNN’s Caroline Kenny

Jon Ossoff prepares to vote in Atlanta on Tuesday.
Jon Ossoff prepares to vote in Atlanta on Tuesday. Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff early voted in Atlanta at the Metropolitan Library on the south side of the city.

Ossoff is one of two Democratic candidates vying to flip the Senate during the crucial Jan. 5 runoff election. Democrats need to win both seats to force a 50-50 Senate and gain control with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris eventually casting the tie breaking vote.

Ossoff didn’t make any remarks inside the polling location — he simply walked in the room, checked in and then walked over to the voting machine to cast his ballot. He said thank yous and then walked out a different door.

Overall, a very quick process. Ossoff was the only voter in the room at the time.

Prior to voting, Ossoff made some brief remarks, a condensed version of his stump speech, at a park across the street with young supporters gathered around him.