After a hand recount of roughly 5 million votes cast in the presidential election, Georgia election officials confirmed President-elect Joe Biden received more votes than President Trump in the state.

Georgia’s secretary of state ordered the recount as a part of the risk-limiting audit process to ensure the public’s trust in the outcome of the presidential vote in the state, where Biden led by 12,284 votes, according to the audited results. That resulted in a 0.0099 percent variation from the original margin, they said.

Biden spoke virtually with governors Thursday about the coronavirus pandemic, a major focus of his transition efforts, as Trump continued to press an array of legal challenges that aim to undercut the Democrat’s victory.

Here’s what to know:

  • Trump on Tuesday called a GOP canvassing-board member in Wayne County, Mich., who announced Wednesday she wanted to rescind her decision to certify the results of the presidential election, the member said in a message to The Washington Post.
  • Trump has abandoned his plan to win reelection by disqualifying enough ballots to reverse Biden’s wins in key states, pivoting to a new goal: delaying a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden’s victory.
  • Here are the people Biden is picking to fill his White House and Cabinet.
  • Election results under attack: Here are the facts.
1:34 a.m.
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Federal judge rejects bid to halt the certification of ballots in Ga.

U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg, a Trump appointee, rejected an effort Thursday to halt the certification of ballots in Georgia hours before the state deadline to do so.

Grimberg said that the attempt “to halt the certification at literally the 11th hour would breed confusion and potential disenfranchisement that, I find, has no basis in fact or in law.”

The lawsuit, which was brought by conservative lawyer L. Lin Wood, dealt a blow to the Trump campaign’s efforts to stop the certification process in Georgia. Grimberg found that Wood, who said in his lawsuit that he is a voter and donor whose “interests are aligned with those of the Georgia Republican Party for the purposes of the instant lawsuit,” did not have standing to bring the suit.

Throughout the hearing, Grimberg was skeptical of Wood’s claims of standing. He said he found it “extremely significant” that a candidate in the case was not a party to the case, at which point Smith signaled that he was willing to add the Trump campaign, another client, as a party to the case.

In his oral opinion, Grimberg largely echoed the arguments made by Kevin Hamilton, a lawyer for the Democrats, who said at one point that “no court has ever entered such sweeping relief.”

Grimberg said that proposing to halt the certification of the election was “quite striking” because “it would require halting the certification of results in a state election in which millions of people have voted.”

“It harms the public interest in countless ways,” he said, including in the need for certainty in having election results.

1:09 a.m.
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Sen. Sasse rebukes Giuliani, says ‘wild press conferences erode public trust’

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.) rebuked the Trump campaign for its news conference today, saying in a statement that “wild press conferences erode public trust.”

Sasse also called on Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to stop pressuring electors to “ignore their certification obligations under the statute,” noting that Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign has lost or withdrawn from five lawsuits because of a lack of evidence.

“We are a nation of laws, not tweets,” said Sasse, who has been more critical of Trump than most Republicans but took criticism for holding his fire as his reelection contest approached this year.

Sasse’s comments Thursday, made in response to a Washington Post request to all GOP senators for comment, are among the strongest criticism that any Republican officeholder has offered of Trump’s campaign to discredit Biden’s election victory.

“What matters most at this stage is not the latest press conference or tweet, but what the President’s lawyers are actually saying in court,” Sasse said in a statement. “And based on what I’ve read in their filings, when Trump campaign lawyers have stood before courts under oath, they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud — because there are legal consequences for lying to judges.”

12:33 a.m.
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Hand recount confirms Biden’s lead in Georgia, according to secretary of state 

After a hand recount of roughly 5 million votes cast in the presidential election, Georgia election officials confirmed Biden received more votes than Trump in the state.

Georgia’s secretary of state ordered the recount as a part of the risk-limiting audit process to ensure the public’s trust in the outcome of the presidential vote in the state, where Biden led by 12,284 votes, according to the audited results. That resulted in a 0.0099 percent variation from the original margin, they said.

The secretary of state is set to certify the results Friday. Trump may request a machine recount of the audited ballots by as late as Tuesday evening.

11:41 p.m.
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Michigan GOP official leaning toward seeking to delay certification of vote

One of the two Republican members of the four-member Michigan canvassing board, Norman Shinkle, said Thursday said that he is leaning toward asking for a delay in the certification vote and calling for an audit. The board is scheduled to vote Monday.

“I do think with all of the potential problems, if any of them are true, an audit is appropriate,” he said in a telephone interview. “I take one step at a time, and if we can get more information, why not?”

Among his concerns: the debunked claim by Trump allies, including attorney Sidney Powell, that Dominion Voting Systems, the Colorado-based manufacturer of voting machines, deleted thousands of Trump votes. “If Dominion was fudging votes, that’s a serious problem,” he said. “If it’s true. I don’t know. I have to be convinced of it. That’s why the audit makes sense.”

Shinkle said his duties go beyond certifying the election — to get to the bottom of any alleged improprieties — even though no evidence of widespread fraud has been found. “Right now the idea to check into some of these accusations seem to make sense to me,” he said. “We have to have people trust our system going forward.”

Shinkle is under intense scrutiny in part because his wife, Mary Shinkle, filed an affidavit supporting a federal lawsuit by the Trump campaign. The lawsuit was withdrawn. Shinkle said he had not read the affidavit and that people should not assume he would be biased by it. “That’s almost an accusation against marriage,” he said. “My wife can do whatever she wants to do.”

Shinkle joked that his phone is ringing constantly from fellow Republicans urging him not to certify the vote. “Every time someone calls, they tell me about a new problem,” he said. He said he hasn’t heard from President Trump or any of his representatives, but if he did, “I would say hi. They have a position to advocate.”

Asked whether he considered Joe Biden the president-elect, he said: “I haven’t thought about that, but the odds are probably that he will become president. But I don’t know what’s going to happen in Pennsylvania or Nevada. My job is to try to do the right thing for the vote in Michigan.”

11:17 p.m.
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Analysis: Fears grow about White House interference at cybersecurity agency after Krebs’s ouster

Current and former cybersecurity officials fear it will be far more difficult to withstand political pressure from the Trump White House following a purge of its senior leadership.

With Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Chris Krebs and other top leaders out of the way, it could be far easier for the White House to force the agency to stop fact-checking phony claims about the election or to combat disinformation about other key issues such as coronavirus vaccine distribution.

“It’s going to be a challenge to overcome the chilling effect from having had a leader of the organization fired for telling the truth,” said Suzanne Spaulding, who led DHS cybersecurity operations during the Obama administration.

10:25 p.m.
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Biden says he has selected treasury secretary, will be announced around Thanksgiving

Biden announced Thursday that he has chosen his treasury secretary but declined to make his selection public.

Speaking after a meeting with the National Governors Association, Biden said the decision would be announced shortly before or after Thanksgiving.

“It is someone who I think will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions," Biden said.

Lael Brainard, who served at the Treasury Department under President Barack Obama and is now a governor at the Federal Reserve, has for months been regarded as the front-runner for the position. Two other names that have surfaced as potential candidates include Sarah Bloom Raskin, another former Obama official at the Treasury Department, and Janet L. Yellen, who served as chair of the Federal Reserve.

Bloom Raskin met recently with the Biden transition team, according to one person granted anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, suggesting she is a finalist for the post.

10:24 p.m.
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Arizona judge dismisses GOP lawsuit

An Arizona judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Republican Party against Maricopa County that alleged the county should be ordered to redo a hand-count audit of votes because it was done improperly the first time.

Republicans argued that state law required Maricopa, where Phoenix is located, to audit its returns by hand-counting ballots from 2 percent of precincts. But Maricopa did not use precincts; because of the pandemic it used vote centers, where voters from many precincts could show up to cast their ballots. Maricopa conducted its audit by hand-counting ballots from 2 percent of its vote centers.

Auditing by vote center is allowable under the elections procedure manual published by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D).

During a hearing Wednesday, an attorney representing Hobbs accused Republicans of using the lawsuit to try to delay certification of election results. Judge John Hannah Jr. also questioned why Republicans had waited until after the election was held to complain about a procedure they had known about before Election Day. Hannah dismissed the case in a brief order Thursday.

There is one remaining election-related lawsuit in Maricopa County, but it is narrow — the allegations are that that two people’s votes were not properly counted. In addition, on Thursday, Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani said he would “probably” file another lawsuit in Arizona.

10:11 p.m.
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Biden assails Trump, says being blocked from government coronavirus data will cost lives

Biden assailed Trump over his “irresponsible” refusal to concede the election that has resulted in the president-elect being stonewalled in efforts to access key information about the coronavirus.

“There is no excuse not to share the data and let us begin to plan because on day one it’s going to take us time,” Biden said during a news conference after a meeting with a committee of governors. “If we don’t have access to all this data, it’s going to put us behind the eight ball by a matter of a month or more. And that’s lives. How many would be lost as a consequence?”

Biden said he wouldn’t rule out a lawsuit against the Trump administration to gain access to the type of briefings often provided a president-elect, but also said he doesn’t believe it would be the most efficient course of action.

Insistent that he’ll be able to work with Republicans in Congress, Biden said he wasn’t worried about Trump’s actions leading Americans to believe his presidency isn’t legitimate, claiming that even most of the Republicans he’s spoken to “think this is debilitating. It sends a horrible message about who we are as a country.”

Asked to expound upon Trump’s post-election actions, Biden struck a measured, but sharp tone, calling Trump’s refusal to concede “another incident where he will be down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history.”

“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks. I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won, he’s not going to be able to win and we’re going to be sworn in on January 20,” Biden said. “Far from me to question his motive. It’s just outrageous what he’s doing.”

9:27 p.m.
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Left-wing Democrats to Biden: ‘We are ready to fight’ on climate change

The Democrats’ expanded “squad,” a group of left-wing members of the House elected mostly through primary challenges, joined the activists of the Sunrise Movement on Thursday to argue for bold, fast action on climate once President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

But they stopped short of criticizing specific members of Biden’s transition team after activists had denounced incoming White House adviser Cedric L. Richmond, a congressman from Louisiana, for his ties to the oil and gas industry.

“There’s a lot of people saying we can’t do what we’ve already done,” said New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), rejecting the idea that activists would have to curtail their expectations after the election. “We want to see, from any appointee, what their commitment on climate is.”

Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) were joined by other Democrats who associated themselves with Sunrise and the squad, including Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) and two newly elected New Yorkers, Reps. Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman. They spoke outside a tent where activists had been holding a teach-in draped with a flag reading “BIDEN: GREEN NEW DEAL NOW.”

But while the Sunrise Movement had condemned Richmond’s appointment, activists did not focus on it at the news conference, even when prodded by reporters. Markey emphasized that Biden had committed to a $2 trillion climate and infrastructure plan, the legislative part of which faces steep odds in Congress.

“From our perspective, we are ready to fight to make sure that plan becomes reality,” Markey said.

8:10 p.m.
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Courts have rejected the Trump campaign’s baseless conspiracy claims. Giuliani just made another one.

Trump campaign lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani claimed at a news conference on Nov. 19 that President Trump lost the election because of a baseless conspiracy. (The Washington Post)

Though the Trump campaign has failed to document significant fraud anywhere in the country, campaign lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani claimed at a news conference Thursday that President Trump lost the election because of a convoluted, baseless conspiracy. Giuliani offered no proof to back up his claims, some of which have been previously debunked, saying that he would do so at some later date.

Throughout the conference, Giuliani made false allegations using highly incendiary language. His comments were met with condemnation from Democrats and skepticism from some Republicans. Appearing on Fox News shortly after the news conference, longtime GOP operative Karl Rove said Giuliani had made some “somewhat strange accusations.”

“They better come up with proof,” he said. “By God, you cannot make an accusation like that without following it through, without going to court and trying to prove it.”

On Thursday, Giuliani falsely suggested that Biden had directed a “national conspiracy” to shade ballot counting in multiple states, relying heavily on officials in “big cities controlled by Democrats ... that have a long history of corruption.”

Giuliani also claimed, with no evidence, that “there was a plan from a centralized place to execute these various acts of voter fraud.”

“I think the logical conclusion is this is a common plan, a common scheme," he said. “It comes right directly from the Democrat Party, and it comes from the candidate.”

Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin called the press conference a “Rudy Giuliani spectacle” that “exposes, as his appearances always do, the absurdity of Donald Trump’s thoroughly discredited claims of voter fraud.”

“No matter how hard Trump and the flailing Giuliani try, they cannot overturn the will of the American people,” Gwin said in a statement.

During the news conference, Giuliani and other Trump campaign lawyers regurgitated a series of claims that have been made in an array of lawsuits, many of which are already dismissed and one in Michigan that was withdrawn earlier Thursday.

Trump’s lawyers pleaded for patience, claiming they would assemble a compelling case that would overturn results in enough states to usher in a second Trump administration. They have so far failed to do so: Nearly every GOP challenge has been tossed out, and not a single vote has been overturned.

7:58 p.m.
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Calls for Biden to cancel student debt grow, alongside tensions surrounding the policy

Political pressure is mounting for Biden to use executive authority to cancel federal student debt as a form of economic stimulus, a proposal that is exposing sharp divisions among economists, consumer activists and policy wonks.

On Wednesday, 238 nonprofit and community organizations — including the NAACP and American Federation of Teachers — urged Biden to take action on loan forgiveness on his first day in office. In a letter to Biden and vice president-elect Kamala D. Harris, the groups argue that using administrative debt cancellation will advance his campaign priorities of economic recovery, pandemic relief and racial equity.

6:43 p.m.
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Harvard University petition demands ‘accountability’ for Trump officials before they speak on campus

A petition circulating at Harvard University is drawing the ire of some allies of President Trump for demanding that the school require “accountability” for members of his administration before they are allowed to speak or teach on campus.

The open letter from Harvard affiliates cites Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election and attempts by some members of his administration to baselessly claim widespread voter fraud. Inviting those Trump allies to Harvard would legitimize subverting democratic norms, warn the signatories, whose names are not visible on the petition.

“That is why today we are asking you to set up a system of accountability for high-level political appointees and Trump administration consultants before they are invited as fellows or to teach or speak on campus,” the letter says. “These accountability guidelines should be publicly shared with students by the end of the calendar year.”

The petitioners also call on the university to “fully vet speakers for their role in undermining” democracy and either “boldly confront” them for it or decline to invite them to the school at all.

It was unclear who created the open letter or how many people have signed it. University spokesman Jason Newton said the school was aware of the petition but declined to comment further.

6:07 p.m.
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In the waning days of Trump’s presidency, White House press pool reports are getting snarkier

The pool reports shared by White House correspondents can be as mundane as a grocery list and about as informative — the who, what and when of the president’s daily comings and goings, as recounted by a reporter who travels with the president for a day and relays it all to the rest of the press corps.

At least that’s the way it used to be. In the Trump era — or more precisely in the waning days of the Trump administration — press pool reports have taken on a more cutting edge.

“The president has nothing on his public schedule today,” began HuffPost reporter Shirish Date’s pool report Tuesday. “He also has not posted any falsehoods on Twitter about winning the election or fraud or anything else, for that matter, in more than 11 hours. The day, however, is young.”

4:35 p.m.
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Analysis: The corrosive consequences of GOP leaders humoring Trump as he sows doubt in democracy

Trump’s drumbeat of baseless claims about the integrity of the election and the decision by most Republican lawmakers who know better to play along are taking a damaging and dangerous toll on democracy.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, but a new poll from Monmouth University finds that 77 percent of Trump’s supporters believe Biden won only because of fraud and 88 percent said they need more information on the count to know for sure who prevailed.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans believe Biden won the election fair and square. But Trump’s public relations campaign to sow doubt is working.