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Arizona and Wisconsin certified their results Monday, giving President-elect Joe Biden a win in two more states where President Trump has contested the election. Trump allies have pledged to continue court challenges in the two states.

The action came as Biden forged ahead with plans for his presidency, announcing a committee to organize his Jan. 20 inauguration and formally unveiling his economic team. Biden was also set to get his first President’s Daily Brief, a classified compilation of information from intelligence agencies, though it was not announced whether he had yet received it. Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris received the briefing, at the Commerce Department.

Here’s what to know:
2:07 a.m.
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Chris Krebs fiercely defends election while Trump’s attacks on it get weirder

By Joseph Marks

Christopher Krebs last night offered a cool, rational defense of the election’s integrity in his first interview since President Trump fired him as the nation’s top election security official.

It was a stark contrast with Trump, whose attacks on the 2020 contest are becoming increasingly fantastical.

Krebs, who led the government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, gave “60 Minutes” interviewer Scott Pelley a point-by-point refutation of the unfounded election fraud claims made by Trump and his allies, which he called “nonsense” and “farcical.”

Those baseless claims include a conspiracy theory positing that Democrats operated a secret algorithm changing how machines recorded votes on an extensive scale and that votes were mysteriously tabulated overseas.

1:03 a.m.
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Analysis: Debunking Trump allies’ latest arguments about fraud in the 2020 election

By Philip Bump

The 2020 presidential contest ended four weeks ago, but for Trump and his allies, the fight continues. The president, as you’re no doubt well aware, continues to insist that it was he, and not Biden, who won the election. There is no evidence that this is true in any sense; Trump lost the electoral college by the same margin with which he won it four years ago, even as he lost the popular vote by a much wider margin.

Through some combination of dishonesty and delusion, though, Trump maintains that he won by a wide margin. To bolster his case, he has elevated various scattershot theories aimed loosely at suggesting that something — anything! — sketchy may have occurred. Those theories ebb and evolve depending on how ludicrous they are shown to be, meaning that the collection of falsehoods itself changes over time.

12:33 a.m.
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Pence to visit Georgia on Friday for pandemic briefing, GOP Senate rally

By Felicia Sonmez

Vice President Pence will travel on Friday to Georgia, where he will receiving a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic and hold a rally for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue ahead of their Jan. 5 runoff elections.

According to the White House, Pence will visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to receive “a briefing on the unprecedented covid-19 vaccine progress and upcoming distribution stage.”

Later Friday, he will headline a “Defend the Majority” rally for Perdue and Loeffler in Savannah.

“The Vice President will deliver remarks on the historic accomplishments of the Trump Administration with the help of the Republican Senate majority, along with the importance of fighting for conservative legislators,” the White House said.

The visit will come one day before Trump is expected to hold a rally in Georgia for Loeffler and Perdue. Details of that event have not yet been announced.

12:12 a.m.
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Arizona certifies election results, giving Biden electoral votes and Kelly the Senate win

By Emma Brown

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs certified election results on Monday, officially naming Biden as the winner of the state and further cementing his national victory over Trump.

Hobbs, a Democrat, certified the statewide vote in the company of two key Republicans, Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich has vocally defended the integrity of Arizona’s election against his own party’s claims of widespread fraud, saying his office investigated and found no evidence.

“This election was conducted with transparency, accuracy and fairness in accordance with Arizona’s laws and election procedures — despite numerous unfounded claims to the contrary,” Hobbs said Monday.

Ducey also said the state’s election was run properly. “The pandemic and covid-19 brought new unprecedented challenges for our state. But as I said before, we do elections well here in Arizona,” he said. “The system is strong, and that’s why I have bragged on it so much.”

The certification paves the way not only for Biden to receive the state’s 11 electoral votes but also for Democrat Mark Kelly to join the U.S. Senate. Kelly, who defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally in a special election Nov. 3, is expected to be sworn in Wednesday.

The legal contests in Arizona are not over, however. It is one of several states that permits election results to be challenged after certification.

Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, has said she intends to lodge such a challenge. She has already asked a court to allow her to begin inspecting mail ballots and envelopes, arguing that poor signature verification may have allowed fraudulent votes to be counted. A hearing on that request was underway as Hobbs certified the results.

Hours after the Arizona officials certified the state’s results, Trump lashed out at Ducey, tweeting and retweeting criticism of the governor for allowing Kelly to be seated so quickly.

“Why is he rushing to put a Democrat in office, especially when so many horrible things concerning voter fraud are being revealed at the hearing going on right now,” Trump tweeted of Ducey. He then tagged right-wing channel One America News and added: “What is going on with @dougducey? Republicans will long remember!”

12:10 a.m.
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Sen. Murkowski says Trump should concede, while Sen. Graham urges him to keep contesting results

By Felicia Sonmez and Seung Min Kim

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Monday said Trump should concede the election to Biden, going further than most other Republicans have in calling on the president to acknowledge his loss.

“I think he should concede. I think the race is over,” the Republican from Alaska told CNN on Monday afternoon.

Murkowski was among the first Senate Republicans to congratulate Biden after his victory speech earlier this month.

Her comments Monday came as two more states — Wisconsin and Arizona — certified Biden as the winner. They also came even as one of Murkowski’s Republican colleagues, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), urged Trump to continue contesting the election results.

In an exchange with reporters at the Capitol on Monday afternoon, Graham said he spoke with Trump over the weekend. “He’s gonna fight for every vote and push systems to get better, and I said, ‘Keep it up,’ ” Graham said.

There has been no evidence of widespread election fraud. Nonetheless, Graham said that Trump is focused on his legal challenges as well as on mail-in voting, “and I’m very worried about it too myself, quite frankly.”

Asked whether he thinks Trump should attend Biden’s inauguration, Graham replied, “If Biden ends up winning, yeah, I think so.”

“I think it’s good for the country; it’d be good for him. We’ll know in December,” he said.

11:29 p.m.
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Kay Bailey Hutchison, Trump’s ambassador to NATO, says Biden is president-elect

By Felicia Sonmez

Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, the permanent U.S. representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, described Biden on Monday as president-elect and repeatedly referred to his team as “the incoming administration,” in remarks that go further than those of most Trump appointees in acknowledging the president’s election loss.

Hutchison made the remarks during a virtual question-and-answer session posted online Monday by the State Department’s U.S.-European Media Hub.

“Well, most certainly, options are left open for the incoming administration in January,” Hutchison said in response to a question about U.S. troop levels abroad. “I think that the way that this has been put forward does leave the decisions for the next administration to determine what is in their best interests, and in the interests of the United States, of course.”

She also emphasized that she thinks the presidential transition will be “smooth.” Trump gave the go-ahead last week for the General Services Administration to formally begin the transition process, but even so, he has continued to tweet baseless claims that the election was “rigged” and refuses to concede to Biden.

“I think that there are many things that this administration — the incoming administration — will do when they come in,” Hutchison said Monday. “And we are going to have a smooth transition so they have all the information they need to determine what the policy is as it stands, and when they review — as every administration would, when they come in — what the options would be going forward for them to look at and make a determination.”

Meanwhile, Biden had phone calls Monday with several foreign leaders, including the presidents of Argentina, Costa Rica and Kenya. He also spoke with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, according to the Biden transition team.

11:11 p.m.
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Wisconsin governor formally certifies Biden’s win in the state

By Rosalind S. Helderman

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has formally certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Badger state, signing a statement of ascertainment reflecting Biden’s win and giving him the state’s 10 electoral votes.

In a statement, Evers, a Democrat, said he had carried out his duty to certify the election “as required by state and federal law.”

The move came shortly after Biden was formally found to be the winner in Wisconsin by the chairwoman of the state’s elections commission. Biden defeated President Trump in the key swing state by more than 20,000 votes, a victory that was confirmed after a recount requested by the president’s campaign in the state’s two largest counties.

In a tweet over the weekend, Trump said his campaign would file a lawsuit Monday or Tuesday arguing that the recount had included illegally cast ballots. During the process, his lawyers had alleged no fraud or wrongdoing but had argued that election officials had improperly applied state law to some absentee ballots. The rules they challenged were in place statewide and have been unchanged since before the 2016 election, which Trump won and did not contest.

State law includes a provision allowing a campaign that loses a recount five days to challenge the results in court, meaning that the Trump campaign can still seek to challenge Evers’s move. In a statement Monday, the state elections administrator, Meagan Wolfe, said a judge could still order the certificate of ascertainment to be amended, should Trump win in court.

Legal experts, however, have said the Trump campaign’s legal arguments are thin and they will face an uphill battle in court. Evers’s speedy action could make success in court even more difficult for Trump because under federal law, the state has now completed the process of appointing electors.

11:00 p.m.
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Grassley emphasizes that Senate must examine Yellen’s tax returns as part of confirmation process

By Felicia Sonmez

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday that he thinks Janet Yellen, Biden’s choice for treasury secretary, “would get a favorable view” in the Senate, but noted that senators would need to review Yellen’s tax returns before arriving at a decision.

Grassley is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which is responsible for holding hearings on nominees for treasury secretary.

Grassley said his panel must examine Yellen’s tax returns and other financial information before he can make a determination, according to Bloomberg News.

Treasury secretary nominees are required to provide their tax returns to the Senate Finance Committee, whereas the Senate Banking Committee did not require those documents during the process of confirming Yellen to her previous position as Federal Reserve chair.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns during his four years as president. Grassley’s emphasis on the importance of Yellen’s tax returns comes just two months after the New York Times published a story based on documents that it said detailed Trump’s tax return data over the span of two decades. Grassley responded to the story by criticizing the anonymous individual who leaked the information.

“That information should have never gotten out, and whoever got it out violated the law,” Grassley said at the time. Among other things, the Times reported Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the same amount in 2017 and paid no taxes at all in several previous years.

10:53 p.m.
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Biden’s pick to lead White House budget office emerges as lightning rod for GOP

By Jeff Stein, Annie Linskey and Seung Min Kim

President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the powerful White House budget office generated early controversy on Monday, with Neera Tanden emerging as an immediate target for conservatives and Republican lawmakers.

Tanden, 50, has regularly clashed with conservatives in a manner that Republicans say could complicate her Senate confirmation process. Two Republican senators on Monday said she could run into trouble during confirmation hearings, warning that her “partisan” background could make it hard for her to win Republican support.

“I’m not disqualifying anybody, but I do think it gets a lot harder obviously if they send someone from their progressive left that are kind of out of the mainstream,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters.

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s first budget director, told Fox News that Tanden had very little chance of being confirmed.

A loyal Democrat with decades of senior policymaking experience, Tanden has been tapped by Biden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which plays a crucial role in setting the president’s economic agenda and approving agency policies. She would be the first woman of color to lead the budget office.

She was a close ally of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and served as a senior adviser in President Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, where she helped draft the Affordable Care Act. She most recently served as president of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank with deep ties to Democratic policymakers. The OMB plays a pivotal role in the White House because of its role in setting the federal budget and clearing new regulations.

Read full report here.

10:03 p.m.
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Schumer says Senate should hold hearings on Biden nominees in January before inauguration

By Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday called for the Senate to hold hearings on Biden’s Cabinet nominees in January and begin voting to confirm them on Inauguration Day “and soon thereafter.”

Schumer’s remarks are likely to be met with resistance from Senate Republicans, some of whom have already sharply criticized Biden’s recent Cabinet choices.

After Trump’s election in 2016, the Republican-controlled Senate held confirmation hearings in January 2017 on more than a half-dozen of his Cabinet appointments. Two of them — Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly — were confirmed on the day of Trump’s inauguration.

“In the midst of this once-in-a-century crisis, it’s imperative the next administration can count on the Senate to confirm its Cabinet without delay,” Schumer said Monday, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: “The Senate should begin hearings on President-elect Biden’s nominees in January, immediately after the Georgia Senate elections, so that key Cabinet officials can be confirmed on Jan. 20 and soon thereafter, which is traditional for new presidents.”

The Georgia runoffs, scheduled for Jan. 5, will determine which party controls the Senate. Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) are facing challenges from Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

In his remarks Monday, Schumer also sought to contrast Biden’s early Cabinet choices with Trump’s nominees, who he described as “individuals who are manifestly unqualified, plagued by ethical complaints or swimming in conflicts of interest — sometimes all three.”

“At the time, Republicans in the Senate lined up to confirm President Trump’s appointments, arguing that a president deserves his Cabinet and broad deference on his nominees,” Schumer said. “I would hope the same deference will be extended to President-elect Biden’s nominees.”

Donna Cassata contribute to this report.

9:34 p.m.
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Wisconsin election commission chair declares Biden winner in final step before vote is certified

By Rosalind S. Helderman

The chairwoman of the Wisconsin Election Commission on Monday completed the state canvass of the Nov. 3 election and declared Biden the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes, the final step before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signs a certificate of ascertainment formalizing Biden’s victory.

Chairwoman Ann Jacobs, a Democrat, completed the process at a brief public ceremony, a day after the state’s two largest counties completed a recount that had been requested — and paid for — by Trump’s campaign. As a result of the recounts, Biden’s lead in the state of more than 20,000 votes grew by 74 votes.

In a statement, the state’s elections administrator, Meagan Wolfe, stressed that Monday’s actions did not amount to a certification of the results. Instead, she said the determination opened a five-day window that allows Trump to challenge Biden’s victory.

In a weekend tweet, Trump had said his campaign would file a lawsuit Monday or Tuesday arguing that the recount had included illegally cast ballots and that tens of thousands of ballots should be invalidated. During the recount, his lawyers had alleged no fraud or wrongdoing but had instead argued that election officials had misinterpreted state law in accepting the ballots in the first place. The rules they challenged were in place statewide and have been unchanged since before the 2016 election, which Trump won and did not contest.

Under Wisconsin law, the job of completing the state canvass falls to the chair of the six-member Elections Commission, a job that rotates among the members. Republicans on the panel had suggested they believed the full commission should also play a role, though it has not done so in past elections. The commission has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday. By acting in advance of that meeting, Jacobs has potentially forestalled efforts to delay the process.

8:57 p.m.
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McConnell doesn’t mention presidential results, urges Democrats to compromise on covid relief

By Mike DeBonis

Nearly four weeks after Election Day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has yet to publicly acknowledge Biden’s presidential victory.

In a nine-minute floor speech Monday afternoon, McConnell did not mention the presidential race, the transition to the Biden administration or any of Biden’s designated Cabinet nominees. Instead, he used the time to lambaste Democrats for refusing to accept GOP proposals for additional federal coronavirus aid.

The two parties have been at loggerheads for months over the parameters of a federal relief package, one that would extend and potentially expand on the $2 trillion Cares Act passed in March. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats negotiated with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin through the fall to no avail. McConnell called it part of a “cynical strategy” on Pelosi’s part to deny Republicans credit ahead of the election.

“But their all or nothing obstruction backfired — Democrats did not pick up seats in the House but instead appear to have lost seats,” McConnell said Monday. “They have not gained any leverage; instead they have lost leverage.”

Now, he added, “Let’s hope our colleagues at the top of the Democratic Party can finally hear their own members and stop blocking the common-sense, multi-hundred-billion-dollar measures that Republicans have been ready to deliver for months.”

Laying out the agenda for the final weeks of the 116th Congress, McConnell cited the need not only for a covid package but also a government spending deal, a defense authorization bill, and the need to confirm additional Trump nominees, “especially on the federal bench.”

He did not note that the Senate’s ability to confirm Republican nominees is nearing an end.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), speaking after McConnell, said “the desperate needs of the country are beyond the small list that Republicans might support.”

“Both sides must give,” he said. “We need a true bipartisan bill, not: ‘This is our bill, take it or leave it.’”

8:13 p.m.
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Supreme Court leery of Trump’s bid to exclude undocumented immigrants from congressional reapportionment

By Robert Barnes

Some Supreme Court justices on Monday seemed skeptical of Trump’s claim that he has the authority to exclude all undocumented immigrants from population totals deciding congressional reapportionment. But they also wondered whether a definitive answer is needed now.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among those wondering whether the court should wait to see whether the Census Bureau can even produce useful numbers about the undocumented population, or whether they would make a difference when deciding the size of each state’s congressional delegation.

“All of these questions would be resolved” by waiting, Roberts said.

7:29 p.m.
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What we know about absentee ballot requests for Georgia runoffs

By Lenny Bronner

With 36 days to go before the Georgia Senate runoffs, the secretary of state’s office said about 934,000 absentee ballots have been requested, about 70 percent of the 1.3 million requests received by Sept. 28, the same number of days before the general election.

The office had released data on about 900,000 of those requests as of Sunday night. A higher percentage of those who have requested runoff absentee ballots are White than in the 2020 general election. So far, 30 percent of voters who have requested absentee ballots are Black, 54 percent are White, 2.6 percent are Asian American, 2.7 percent are Hispanic and nearly 9 percent are of unknown race. In the general, 32 percent of absentee voters were Black, 50 percent White, 3.6 percent Asian American, 4 percent Hispanic and 8 percent are of unknown race.

Those voters who have requested absentee ballots are also older than in November. The median age is 69 years, and only 6.4 percent are under the age of 30. In November, the median age was 61 years and 14 percent were under the age of 30.

Of those who requested absentee ballots, 92 percent voted in the general election; of those who did not, nearly all had requested an absentee ballot but never returned it. For the general election, 33 percent of absentee ballot requesters had not voted in Georgia in the 2016 election; so far for the runoff, that figure is 27 percent.