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President-elect Joe Biden continued at a news conference Tuesday to project the authority of an incoming president even as President Trump resists conceding the race. Biden defended the Affordable Care Act soon after the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law. He also called Trump’s refusal to concede “an embarrassment” and said he may start naming Cabinet members as soon as this month.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that legal challenges being pressed by Trump are “no reason for alarm” and would not prevent a new administration, “if there is one,” from taking office in January. Biden said he has not yet spoken to McConnell, but intends to in the “not too distant future.”

Also, Sen. Thom Tillis is projected by Edison Research to hold onto his seat in North Carolina, beating Cal Cunningham, one of the candidates Democrats had hoped would swing the Senate in their direction. Control rests on the two runoffs in Georgia.

Here’s what to know now:
  • A majority of the Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act in the face of a challenge from Republican-led states and the Trump administration.
  • The White House has instructed senior government leaders to block cooperation with Biden’s transition team, escalating a standoff that threatens to impede the transfer of power and prompting the Biden team to consider legal action.
  • Biden has begun taking calls from foreign leaders and weighing whom to appoint to top White House positions, with several of his longtime advisers expected to take senior roles.
  • Attorney General William P. Barr gave federal prosecutors approval to pursue allegations of “vote tabulation irregularities” in certain cases before results are certified — a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.
November 10, 2020 at 9:17 PM EST
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Biden doesn’t need ballots that arrived after Election Day to win Pennsylvania

By Colby Itkowitz

Pennsylvania’s top elections official, Kathy Boockvar, said about 10,000 mail-in ballots were received in counties across the state after polls closed on Election Day, taking the air out of lawsuit brought by state Republicans seeking to discard ballots received between 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 and 6 p.m. on Nov. 5.

Biden is leading Trump in Pennsylvania by more than 45,000 votes, meaning even if the Republicans’ legal challenge was successful and those late-arriving ballots were tossed, Biden would still win the state.

Pennsylvania counties are still working through about 94,000 provisional ballots given to people who voted in person on Election Day but required extra verification.

“Millions of Pennsylvanians voted and made their voices heard in a free, fair and open election last week. I am so proud of the election officials and poll workers who worked tirelessly, amid a pandemic, so voters could decide this election,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Boockvar said in a statement.

Republicans have multiple legal challenges going in Pennsylvania. They petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and stop the counting of late-arriving ballots and to ensure they were being segregated from other ballots.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who received the petition because he is the justice responsible for that region, did not order the counting be stopped but did tell the counties they had to comply with state guidance to keep the late ballots separate — which they were already doing.

November 10, 2020 at 8:48 PM EST
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As states press forward with vote counts, Trump advisers privately express pessimism about heading off Biden’s win

By Amy Gardner, Tom Hamburger, Jon Swaine and Josh Dawsey

Six states where Trump has threatened to challenge his defeat continued their march toward declaring certified election results in the coming weeks, as his advisers privately acknowledged that Biden’s official victory is less a question of “if” than “when.”

Trump began the day tweeting about “BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE” as he and his allies touted unproved claims that election fraud had tainted the election in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Vice President Pence gave a presentation to GOP senators on Capitol Hill about new litigation expected in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia — imploring them to stick with the president, according several Republicans in the room.

But even some of the president’s most publicly pugilistic aides, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and informal adviser Corey Lewandowski, have said privately that they are concerned about the lawsuits’ chances for success unless more evidence surfaces, according to people familiar with their views.

Trump met with advisers again Tuesday afternoon to discuss whether there is a path forward, said a person with knowledge of the discussions, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. The person said Trump plans to keep fighting but understands it is going to be difficult. “He is all over the place. It changes from hour to hour,” the person said.

In the states, Democratic and some Republican officials said they have seen no evidence of fraud on a scale sufficient to overturn the results. “There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud,” one GOP official in Georgia said.

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November 10, 2020 at 8:12 PM EST
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Trump campaign says it is filing new lawsuit in Michigan claiming voting irregularities

By Tom Hamburger

President Trump’s campaign said it was a filing federal lawsuit in Michigan on Tuesday evening asking for an emergency ruling declaring that Republican voters were denied their constitutional rights in the way votes were counted in the state and seeking to stop certification of the results.

The lawsuit will be the second the campaign has filed in Michigan. A lawsuit filed in the Michigan courts by the campaign last week was dismissed by a state Court of Claims judge who said the suit lacked merit.

The new case will include affidavits from more than 100 witnesses describing improper counting of ballots, votes cast by dead people and tabulation and software errors, according to Trump campaign lawyers. They said the affidavits will describe how Republican poll watchers at the TCF Center in Detroit, where absentee votes were counted, were ridiculed and their complaints were often ignored. The actions violated the guarantee of equal protection under the law, according to Matt Morgan, the campaign’s general counsel.

A Michigan election law expert who represents Democrats dismissed the new suit.

“It’s hard to imagine a viable claim on the grounds they are asserting,” said Chris Trebilcock, who has been monitoring the lawsuits that are landing in Michigan.

Of four lawsuits filed in the state so far by the Trump campaign and allied groups, three have been dismissed, he said. And the Trump campaign would have to prove substantial fraud to upend Joe Biden’s win in the state, which he secured by nearly 150,000 votes.

But at the opening of the evening phone conference, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said it was not at all clear that Biden had won the election.

In any case, he said, the 71.5 million people who voted for Trump “deserve to trust in the security of the election. Murtaugh said it will take a while to get to a final result but ultimately, he argued, Trump would be victorious. “We are telling the president’s supporters that they will need to have patience. We are not going to eat the apple in one bite,” he said.

Counties in Michigan are supposed to certify by Nov. 17 and then the results go to a state canvassing board for certification. That board must meet on Nov. 23.

November 10, 2020 at 8:07 PM EST
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Republican Sen. Pat Toomey says Biden ‘likely’ next president and Trump should begin transition

By Colby Itkowitz

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania — one of the handful of battleground states that Trump won in 2016 and lost this year — said Biden is the “likely” winner and that the president should begin the transition process.

Toomey, who is not running for reelection when his term is up in 2022, struck a delicate balance, not quite accepting that Biden is the president-elect, but acknowledging the reality of the results.

“We’re on a path it looks likely Joe Biden is going to be the next president of the United States. It’s not 100% certain but it is quite likely,” Toomey said in an interview with Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “So I think a transition process ought to begin.”

Toomey did not foreclose the idea that Trump could still win through recounts and court challenges, but called it an “unlikely scenario.”

Most Senate Republicans have embraced Trump’s baseless claims that voting irregularities and fraud cost him the election and are refusing to acknowledge Biden as the next president. Only four Senate Republicans, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have congratulated Biden on his win.

November 10, 2020 at 7:12 PM EST
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Postal worker admits fabricating allegations of ballot tampering, officials say

By Shawn Boburg and Jacob Bogage

A Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities admitted to U.S. Postal Service investigators that he fabricated the allegations, according to three officials briefed on the investigation and a statement from a House congressional committee.

Richard Hopkins’s claim that a postmaster in Erie, Pa., instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day was cited by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William P. Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.

But on Monday, Hopkins, 32, told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee tweeted late Tuesday that the “whistleblower completely RECANTED.”

Hopkins did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The reversal comes as Trump has refused to concede to Biden, citing unproven allegations about widespread voter fraud in an attempt to swing the results in his favor. Republicans held up Hopkins’s claims as among the most credible because he signed an affidavit swearing that he overheard a supervisor instructing colleagues to backdate ballots mailed after Nov. 3.

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November 10, 2020 at 6:51 PM EST
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Top Wisconsin election official says ‘no evidence’ so far of problems with state’s vote

By Rosalind Helderman

Wisconsin’s top election official said in a statement Tuesday evening that “no evidence” has been provided to the state that “supports allegations of systematic or widespread election issues” in the state, where Biden holds a slim 20,500-vote lead over Trump.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said that while the state’s results are still unofficial — counties are currently triple-checking results before submitting them to the state — she had “not seen any credible information to cast any doubt on those unofficial results.”

Wolfe’s statement comes as the Trump campaign continues to maintain there were “irregularities” in the Wisconsin vote — but has provided no evidence nor cited any specific examples of potential problems. The campaign says it plans to request a recount in the state, which is allowed given that Biden’s margin of victory is under 1 percent. The campaign cannot file a petition for the recount until after a county completes its canvass, which must occur by Nov. 17.

Wolfe noted that every step of the voting process is open to observers in Wisconsin. This includes voting at the polls on Election Day and the counting of absentee ballots (some localities live-streamed the absentee count.) Every ballot also has a paper trail, she noted, which is currently being rechecked before certification.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing many concerns that result from this unsubstantiated misinformation,” Wolfe said. “We want Wisconsin’s voters to know we hear their concerns and to provide facts on these processes to combat the rumors and misinformation.”

November 10, 2020 at 5:28 PM EST
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GOP Sen. Thom Tillis projected to win Senate race in North Carolina

By Colby Itkowitz

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is the projected winner in the North Carolina Senate race, according to Edison Research, which made the call a few hours after Democrat Cal Cunningham conceded the race.

Cunningham — who Democrats considered one of their best chances to flip a Senate seat this year — fell short, as did many Democrats challenging an incumbent Republican senator. The Democrats flipped two seats, one in Arizona and one in Colorado, giving them 48 seats to the Republicans’ 49 seats.

“The voters have spoken and I respect their decision,” Cunningham said in a statement in which he shared that he’d just called Tillis to congratulate him.

“This was a hard-fought campaign and I wish nothing but the best to Cal and his family going forward,” Tillis said in a statement. “I am confident that we all can come together and meet this moment and am ready to get to work.”

The balance of power in the Senate won’t be known until after dual runoff elections for Georgia’s two Senate seats on Jan. 5. The winners of those races will determine which party has the majority.

November 10, 2020 at 5:06 PM EST
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Pence cancels Florida vacation

By Josh Dawsey

Vice President Pence is no longer going to Florida on vacation as planned this week, administration officials say. Pence is instead staying back in Washington as the president seeks to overturn results in a number of states with unproven allegations of widespread voter fraud, officials say.

Pence argued to senators Tuesday they should stick with the president and gave a presentation on legal actions the team planned to file in many states. But Pence has been largely out of the limelight and did not attend a news conference that he was invited to attend in Philadelphia last week to allege fraud

The invitation by some of the president’s outside advisers was declined by Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, who believed it would be inappropriate for him to attend.

November 10, 2020 at 4:34 PM EST
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As Arizona count ticks on, Democratic volunteers race to make sure ballots are not rejected

By Hannah Knowles

TOLLESON, Ariz. — It took her three tries to get the right door, and then no one answered. Maria Hernández started walking back to her car to find the next person on her list at risk of losing his or her vote.

Then a woman came out of the house. It was the voter’s mom. Hernández explained that her daughter needed to call the county by Tuesday to confirm that the signature on her ballot’s envelope was hers.

“It’ll take her, like, one minute,” Hernández said, offering her own phone number for any questions. The woman agreed to remind her daughter.

“Biden is so close,” Hernández said as she left.

Days after Biden was declared the victor in the White House race, the vote in Arizona remains too close to call and the margin is narrowing.

November 10, 2020 at 3:52 PM EST
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Biden names transition teams to gather information about federal agencies

By Lisa Rein

Even as the Trump administration blocked his access to the government, President-elect Joe Biden forged ahead Tuesday with a key step in the transition of power: naming teams that will begin gathering information about federal operations.

Biden’s transition team has assembled a list of 500 experts in federal policy from diplomacy to space exploration who will form the backbone of the effort to prepare to lead the U.S. government in January, learning from the workforce there now what to expect at every agency on personnel, technology, policy and program matters.

“It’s about getting the Cabinet leaders ready to lead, equipping them with the information they need,” a Biden transition official said in advance of the public rollout.

November 10, 2020 at 3:27 PM EST
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Biden says Trump’s refusal to concede is ‘an embarrassment’ that ‘will not help the president’s legacy’

By Felicia Sonmez

In remarks in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday afternoon, Biden weighed in on Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential race, denouncing the president’s actions and suggesting that Americans are “ready to unite.”

“Well, I just think it’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” Biden said of Trump’s insistence that he won the race. “The only thing that — how can I say this tactfully? — I think it will not help the president’s legacy.”

Biden chose his words carefully, noting several times in his exchange with reporters that “there’s only one president at a time.” But he also maintained that “nothing’s going to stop” the transition effort as he moves forward with selecting Cabinet nominees and take other steps in the next two months.

“I’m confident that the fact that they’re not willing to acknowledge we won at this point is not of much consequence in our planning and what we’re able to do between now and January 20th,” Biden said. He added that he hopes to “be in a position to let people know at least a couple [Cabinet members] that we want before Thanksgiving.”

The president-elect referred to his conversations with a half-dozen world leaders since the race was called in his favor Saturday. He said those leaders “are hopeful that the United States’ democratic institutions are viewed once again as being strong and enduring.”

Biden played down concerns about the transition team’s current lack of access to classified information, telling reporters, “It would be nice to have it, but it’s not critical” and noting that “I’m not in a position to make any decisions on those issues anyway.”

He said he looks forward to speaking to both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at some point, and he declined to specifically criticize McConnell for refusing to acknowledge his win.

“I think that the whole Republican Party has been put in a position — with a few notable exceptions — of being mildly intimidated by the sitting president,” Biden said.

Biden also pushed back against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement earlier Tuesday that there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.

“So far, there is no evidence of any of the assertions made by the president or Secretary of State Pompeo,” Biden said. Then he laughingly repeated: “Secretary of State Pompeo.”

Ultimately, Biden said, “it’s all going to come to fruition on January 20th, and between now and then, my hope and expectation is that the American people do know, do understand that there has been a transition — even among Republicans who are people who voted for the president."

“I understand the sense of loss,” Biden said. “I get that. But I think the majority of the people who voted for the president … I think they understand that we have to come together. I think they’re ready to unite. And I believe we can pull the country out of this bitter politics that we’ve seen for the last the last five, six, seven years.”

As the news conference concluded, a reporter asked one final question: How do you expect to work with Republicans if they won’t even acknowledge you as president-elect?

“They will,” Biden responded with a smile. “They will.”

November 10, 2020 at 2:59 PM EST
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World leaders call to congratulate Biden, he tells them ‘America is back’

By John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz

Biden spoke by phone Tuesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheál Martin, who each called to congratulate him on his victory, according to the president-elect’s transition team.

“First of all, I’m letting them know that America is back,” Biden said during a news conference when asked what he’s told the world leaders. “We’re going to be back in the game. It’s not America alone,” he said, a shot at Trump’s isolationist agenda.

I feel confident that we’re going to be able to put America back in a place of respect that it had before,” he said.

In separate conversations with the world leaders, Biden spoke about working together to combat global issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, according to a readout from the Biden team.

Earlier, Johnson shared on Twitter that he and Biden had spoken.

“I just spoke to @JoeBiden to congratulate him on his election,” Johnson tweeted. “I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and to working with him on our shared priorities — from tackling climate change, to promoting democracy and building back better from the pandemic.”

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said Johnson had “warmly congratulated” Biden and invited him to a climate change summit that the United Kingdom is hosting in Glasgow next year.

“They also looked forward to seeing each other in person,” according to the British readout of the call.

Biden began taking calls from foreign leaders Monday, speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We’ve worked with each other before, and we’re ready to pick up on that work and tackle the challenges and opportunities facing our two countries — including climate change and COVID-19,” Trudeau said in a message posted on social media. “. . . President-elect @JoeBiden and I agreed to keep in touch and work closely together.”

Biden said during the news conference that he’s spoken to six world leaders, and owes many more a return phone call.

November 10, 2020 at 2:30 PM EST
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Analysis: Energy lobbyists prepare for Biden, despite Trump’s refusal to concede

By Dino Grandoni

Not every Republican lawmaker has publicly acknowledged that Biden won the presidential election as Trump refuses to concede. But trade groups often aligned with the GOP have already come to grips with the power change coming in Washington.

Over the last several days, representatives from manufacturers, coal-mining companies, oil producers and other industries have congratulated the president-elect on his victory — and signaled they are interested in helping shape Biden’s plans to tackle climate change.

Biden’s proposal to spend $2 trillion over four years to reduce emissions while creating jobs was written in coordination with environmental activists and labor unions, and now companies want a seat at the table.

November 10, 2020 at 1:57 PM EST
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Pence to visit Georgia on Nov. 20 to campaign for GOP senators

By Felicia Sonmez and Erica Werner

Vice President Pence told Senate Republicans at their weekly luncheon Tuesday that he will travel to Georgia later this month to campaign for the state’s two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, according to a Republican who attended the luncheon.

Both Perdue and Loeffler are facing hotly contested January runoff elections that are likely to determine which party controls the Senate. Pence said he will visit the state Nov. 20, according to the participant in the luncheon, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the vice president’s remarks.

Georgia has already witnessed an estimated $150 million in advertising in the initial Senate campaigns. Both Perdue and Loeffler — as well as Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — and their various outside supporters expect to try to nationalize the race and focus their messaging on the impact that victories could have for each side, with Democrats trying to achieve a historically high Black turnout normally associated with a presidential race.

Paul Kane contributed to this report.