President-elect Joe Biden told Georgia voters they have the power to decide Senate control — and the fate of additional economic relief — at a rally Monday on the eve of a pair of Senate runoffs.

President Trump held a nighttime rally during which he publicly pressured Vice President Pence to intervene in this week’s electoral college vote tally.

“I have to tell you, I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president, comes through for us,” Trump told the crowd in Dalton, Ga. “He’s a great guy. Because if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”

Pence campaigned earlier Monday in the state, which Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris visited Sunday. During her swing, Harris accused Trump of a “baldfaced, bold abuse of power” for calling Georgia’s secretary of state as part of Trump’s efforts to reverse the presidential election results.

Here’s what to know:
  • A new Congress convened Sunday with Republicans openly divided, as several GOP senators unleashed salvos against at least a dozen Republican colleagues who are planning to challenge the results of the presidential election later this week.
  • Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that legal scholars described as a flagrant abuse of power and a potential criminal act.
  • Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system manager, pulled no punches during a news conference Monday as he dismissed, point by point, numerous unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, some of which Trump repeated during the call with Raffensperger.
  • Here’s where Senate Republicans stand on certifying the electoral college vote.
  • Election results are under attack: Here are the facts.
2:44 a.m.
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Trump tells Georgia crowd he hopes Pence ‘comes through for us’ during electoral vote tally

At his rally in Dalton, Ga., on Monday night, Trump publicly put pressure on Pence to intervene in this week’s electoral college vote tally, telling the crowd that he hopes the vice president “comes through for us.”

He did not elaborate on what precisely he would like Pence to do. In his role as president of the Senate, Pence will preside over Congress’s affirmation this week of Biden’s win.

“I have to tell you, I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president, comes through for us,” Trump told the crowd at his rally for Loeffler and Perdue. “He’s a great guy. Because if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much.”

The president then quickly added: “No, Mike is a great guy. He’s a wonderful man and a smart man, and a man that I like a lot. But he’s going to have a lot to say about it. And he — you know, one thing with him, you’re going to get straight shots. He’s going to call it straight.”

Pence has told Trump he has no power to thwart Biden’s electoral college win, and aides say the vice president plans to stick to his perfunctory role in this week’s proceedings.

But over the weekend, Pence’s office encouraged the challenges to states’ results, saying Pence “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence.”

At Monday’s rally, Trump also took aim at Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who like other state officials has refused to comply with the president’s demands to overturn Biden’s win. Trump told the crowd in Dalton that he plans to return to Georgia to campaign against Kemp if he runs for reelection in 2022.

“I’ll be here in about a year and a half campaigning against your governor, I guarantee you that,” Trump said to cheers.

Amber Phillips contributed to this report.

2:07 a.m.
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Democrats, Republicans race to finish in Ga. as Trump casts shadow over Senate runoffs

ATLANTA — Debate over President Trump’s own electoral grievances dominated the final day of campaigning for two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia on Monday, raising concerns among Republican strategists and local officials that his conspiracy theories would depress GOP turnout and jeopardize continued Senate control.

The Republican secretary of state’s office on Monday held a news conference with a top election official to denounce Trump’s false claims of election fraud over the weekend, urging Georgians to “please turn out and vote tomorrow.” At an earlier event in Milner, Ga., Vice President Pence was interrupted by someone who shouted a demand that Pence overturn the presidential election results.

President-elect Joe Biden, who also traveled to the state on Monday, turned Trump’s efforts to overturn the November election results into a rallying cry to drive Democrats to the polls on Tuesday. Only by winning both seats would Democrats control the Senate, giving Biden far better odds of pushing through his agenda.

1:28 a.m.
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Sens. Cramer, Hoeven become latest Republicans to announce they will not oppose electoral vote tally

Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said Monday they will not oppose the electoral vote tally in Congress this week, becoming the latest Republicans to do so since the release of audio of Trump’s phone call with Raffensperger.

In the past day, other Republicans who have announced they will affirm the results of the presidential race include Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.).

In his statement, Cramer said that while he shares the concerns of those who plan to object, “the Founding Fathers did not design a system where the federal legislative branch could reject a state’s certified choice for President in favor of their own.”

“In light of these concerns, I will not object to the Electoral College votes when they are counted, and — unless overwhelmingly persuasive evidence is presented before the Senate when we debate the objections — I will not vote to reject the results,” Cramer said.

Hoeven similarly said he believes North Dakotans “do not want Congress to determine their vote, and we should not set the precedent by doing it for other states.”

“Therefore, I do not plan to object,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, the courts, not Congress, are responsible for resolving any electoral disputes and any irregularities should be adjudicated through the courts. This is what the Constitution outlines and that is how we should proceed.”

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) announced Monday that she, too, will support the electoral college tally.

“It is time for Congress to count the electoral votes from each State and fulfill our Constitutional duty,” she said in a statement. “I cannot and will not unconstitutionally insert Congress into the Presidential election in this manner. This would amount to stealing power from the People and the States. It would, in effect, replace the Electoral College with Congress, and strengthen the efforts of those who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant.

1:17 a.m.
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Analysis: Democratic wins in Georgia runoffs could mean bigger spending in Congress

President Trump may have just unwittingly delivered a parting gift to fans of more fiscal stimulus.

His effort to bully Georgia’s secretary of state into overturning his defeat there in the Nov. 3 election won’t stop President-elect Joe Biden from taking office on Jan. 20. But the shocking attempt — laid out over an hour-long Saturday telephone call along with the full leaked audio — could backfire against Senate Republicans in Georgia’s runoff elections Tuesday.

A Democratic sweep would hand the party control of the Senate, boosting the odds the Biden administration could steer more economic relief spending through Congress. Investors see fiscal stimulus as bullish for stocks but might also worry about what an all-Democratic Washington means for corporate taxes and regulation.

11:18 p.m.
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Loeffler to object to congressional certification of Biden’s win

Sen. Kelly Loeffler said Monday that she will object to electors from states won by Biden when Congress counts the votes Wednesday, endorsing Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud and casting doubt on the election outcome.

Loeffler (R-Ga.) issued the statement hours before Trump was scheduled to hold a rally in Georgia and the night before her runoff election against Democrat Raphael Warnock.

“The American people deserve a platform in Congress, permitted under the Constitution, to have election issues presented so that they can be addressed,” Loeffler said. “That’s why, on January 6th, I will vote to give President Trump and the American people the fair hearing they deserve and support the objection to the Electoral College certification process.”

Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.), James Lankford (Okla.), Steve Daines (Mont.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) said Saturday that they will contest the electoral college vote certification. Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) announced last week that he would challenge the duly certified results from Pennsylvania.

Trump and many of his Republican allies see the certification of Biden’s victory as their last stand to contest the election results, even if doing so is all but certain to fail in the Democratic-led House and in the Senate, where a number of Republicans have warned against the challenge.

11:02 p.m.
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A fired-up Georgia election official rebuts Trump’s election fraud claims

Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling said on Jan. 4 that the state’s electors would be counted by Congress. (Reuters)

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting systems manager, pulled no punches during a Monday news conference as he point by point dismissed numerous unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, some of which Trump repeated during an hour-long phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state Saturday.

Sterling called it “anti-disinformation Monday” and said he wanted to set the record straight, especially ahead of a pair of Senate runoff elections, because “we want to make sure people understand their votes count.”

“The secretary wants me to make clear that everybody’s vote is going to count and everybody’s vote did count,” Sterling said.

He urged participation in Tuesday’s elections. “If you care about the values and the direction of the nation you want to see, it is your obligation to turn out and vote tomorrow,” he said.

It was the first news conference by Georgia election officials since reports emerged about Trump’s weekend call in which he pressured fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes that would change the state’s election result in his favor.

“The reason I’m having to stand here today is because there are people in position of authority and respect who have said their votes didn’t count and it’s not true,” Sterling said before he rattled off and dismissed a lengthy list of claims from Trump. “It’s Groundhog Day again. I’m going to talk about the things I’ve talked about repeatedly for two months, but I’m going to do it for one last time — I’m hoping.”

He suggested that the claims about election fraud are “easily, provably false,” but the repetition of the claims could undermine voter trust in elections, especially ahead of elections Tuesday that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

“Yet the president persists,” Sterling said. “And by doing so undermines Georgians’ faith in the election system, especially Republican Georgians in this case, which is important, because we have a big election coming up tomorrow and everybody deserves to have their vote counted if they want it to be, Republican and Democrat alike.”

Sterling also went through an exhaustive dismissal of a video Trump repeatedly mentioned during the call, which Raffensperger said had been taken “out of context, and which The Post has fact-checked.

“I will admit, when I listened to the audio of the phone call, and the president brought that up again, and I heard it on a radio ad again today, I wanted to scream,” Sterling said. “Well I did scream at the computer, and I screamed in my car, at the radio talking about this, because this has been thoroughly debunked.”

10:35 p.m.
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Georgia election officials say they’re prepared for ‘biggest runoff we’ve ever seen’

ATLANTA — Georgia elections officials, who have been beating back unfounded claims of fraud and malfeasance since the November election, say they’re prepared to be in the spotlight once again after Tuesday’s runoffs.

“All the counties in Georgia are in the spotlight right now, so we are all prepared for this as well as we can be,” Richard Barron, Fulton County’s elections director, said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Trump has attacked Fulton County, the most populous in Georgia, repeatedly since he lost the state two months ago in the presidential election — including in his call to the secretary of state. Barron said his staff has endured a bomb threat, death threats and repeated racial slurs in the run-up to Tuesday’s vote.

“We're trying to take each of those things as they happen and just continue to do our jobs,” Barron said.

Elsewhere, officials who maintain that they ran a smooth election in November say they don’t plan on changing things this time around.

“If the wheel isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” Erica Hamilton, elections director in DeKalb County, said in an interview. “We’re ready for the challenge. We knew it was going to be historic once we saw there was going to be a runoff, so we’ve been getting prepared for this moment.”

Hamilton said the county will be live-streaming election night ballot scanning to reassure anyone skeptical of the count’s legitimacy.

“We want everything to be transparent and let them know we have nothing to hide here in DeKalb County — and in the state of Georgia, as a matter of fact,” Hamilton said.

In Gwinnett County, which encompasses the fast-diversifying suburbs northeast of Atlanta, communications director Joe Sorenson said his staff is committed to running a clean election, no matter their personal party preferences.

“The people working in the trenches here, they do take it personally,” Sorenson said.

Officials in Fulton, Gwinnett and DeKalb counties — three of the four largest in the state — told The Washington Post that more than 900,000 people in their counties have voted early, between absentee ballots and in-person locations. They said they hope to finish counting all but the last of the mailed ballots by late Tuesday.

“It’s definitely the biggest runoff we’ve ever seen,” Sorenson said. “By sheer numbers, it’s one of the largest elections we’ve seen already.”

10:31 p.m.
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‘The power is literally in your hands,’ Biden tells Georgia voters on eve of Senate runoff elections

On the eve of the Senate runoff elections in Georgia, Biden emphasized the importance of the election in determining party control of the upper chamber and the fate of the negotiations in Congress over a third coronavirus stimulus package.

Biden urged Georgians to vote for the two Democrats running in Tuesday’s contests, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, noting that a Democratic-controlled Senate would support the $2,000 covid-19 stimulus checks that Senate Republicans have opposed.

“If you’re like millions of Americans all across this country, you need the money. You need the help and you need it now. Now, look, Georgia, there’s no one in America with more power to make that happen than you,” Biden said during a rally Monday afternoon in Atlanta.

“The power is literally in your hands. By electing Jon and the reverend, you can break the gridlock that has gripped Washington,” he added.

Biden’s remarks focused on pressing economic and health-care needs relating to the coronavirus pandemic, including vaccine distribution and lack of state funding to help make vaccines more accessible. He criticized the Trump administration’s handling of vaccine distribution, calling it a “literal shame.”

“Getting America vaccinated will be one of the most difficult operational challenges this nation has ever faced. But we’ve known it for the last four months. This administration has gotten off to a god-awful start,” he said.

Biden was the first Democrat to win Georgia since 1992, taking the state with a 11,779-vote margin. Since the Nov. 3 election, Biden’s victory was reaffirmed twice with ensuing recounts, one by hand and one by machine rescanning. During a call Saturday, Trump sought to pressure Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to overturn the results in Trump’s favor.

During his speech, Biden thanked Georgia voters and asked them to vote once more in the runoffs: “Your voices were heard. Your votes were counted. The will of the people prevailed. We won three times here,” he said, referring to the recounts.

10:23 p.m.
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More than 3 million Georgians have already voted in state’s Senate runoffs

With just one more day to go before the Georgia runoff election, more than 3 million Georgians have already cast their ballots. This is fewer than the 3.9 million votes that had been cast at this point before the general election, but it is already a turnout record for a statewide runoff in Georgia.

While using early vote data to predict the outcome of elections can be dangerous, Democrats are outperforming their already substantial early vote advantage from November. This is mostly driven by early vote participation from Black voters, who make up nearly 31 percent of the electorate so far — compared to 28 percent at this point in November.

In addition, there are nearly 120,000 new voters who have cast their ballots. These are voters that did not vote in November, either because they decided not to or because they were not yet eligible. These voters skew younger and less White, both groups that lean Democratic.

Whether this Democratic advantage in the early vote will actually translate to a Senate majority will depend on Election Day turnout. Estimates for that range anywhere between 700,000 to 1.5 million. On Nov. 3, one million people voted, with more than 60 percent of those ballots being cast for Republicans.

9:57 p.m.
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Hoyer says electoral college vote tally ‘may well’ go until Thursday

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said that there may be hours of debate on Wednesday’s electoral college vote tally, with a final vote potentially coming Thursday.

In a brief exchange with reporters at the U.S. Capitol, Hoyer said the debate and vote “may well” go until Thursday because of the various objections by Republicans.

“I don’t think we need to go all night,” Hoyer said, adding: “I’ll have to make that judgment, though, sometime on Wednesday.”

He also declined to say whether the House might act to censure Trump over the Saturday phone call during which he pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to change the presidential vote tally in Georgia.

“I think that we need to consider what we’re going to do on that — not in this context,” Hoyer said. “Let’s get the inauguration done. There’s time to do that. I mean, I think, [a number] of people were speculating that it was a violation of Georgia law and federal law, who think it may have been criminal behavior.”

9:25 p.m.
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Analysis: The incoherent tale of Trump’s presidency, in 4 call transcripts

In a phone call on Jan. 2, President Trump insisted he won the state and threatened vague legal consequences. Here are excerpts from the call. (Obtained by The Washington Post)

President Trump might be the victim of more leaks than anyone in modern American history. His chaotic style and his disregard for norms and legal boundaries have led a historic number of allies, administration officials and others to violate expectations of confidentiality in the name of raising red flags about what’s happening behind the scenes.

And just as Trump’s presidency began with a major leak of his phone calls, it now comes to a close with another.

Four years ago, it was Trump’s wayward calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico a week after his inauguration that made waves after The Washington Post published transcripts of them.

Today, it’s Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) — also a scoop from The Post and a remarkable document epitomizing Trump’s increasingly desperate and flailing attempts to steal the 2020 election.

And in between, we got another unfiltered look at Trump’s interactions with a fellow foreign leader, thanks to the publication of a rough transcript of a call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to Trump’s impeachment.

8:54 p.m.
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Sen. Portman says he ‘cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters’

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he will not support his Republican colleagues who are objecting to the certification of Biden’s electoral college win.

In a statement, Portman said that he “cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters.”

He noted that the Constitution “created a system for electing the President through the Electoral College that ensures the people and the states hold the power, not Congress.”

Portman, who said he voted and campaigned for Trump, said he was “disappointed in the election results.”

“Following the election, I supported the Trump campaign’s right to pursue recounts and legal challenges,” reads the statement, adding: “But after two months of recounts and legal challenges, not a single state recount changed a result and, of the dozens of lawsuits filed, not one found evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election.”

Twelve Republicans in the Senate have said they oppose certifying Biden’s victory, while 20, now including Portman, have said they support certification, according to a Washington Post tracker.

Later Monday, another Republican, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), said she would not support her colleagues objecting to the electoral vote tally because “the will of the voters in each state — not political considerations or the individual preferences of senators and representatives — must determine the winner of the presidential election.”

“Our democracy permits enjoying electoral victories, but its survival requires accepting defeats,” she said in a statement. “Despite a landslide victory in West Virginia, President Trump lost his reelection bid by a margin of 306-232 in the Electoral College.”

8:45 p.m.
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National Guard activated for D.C. protests, with more restraints than in June, officials say

The District has mobilized the National Guard and will have every city police officer on duty Tuesday and Wednesday to handle protests of the November presidential election, which Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said may include people looking to instigate violence.

Bowser (D) has asked D.C. residents to stay away from downtown Washington on both days while members of far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, amass to falsely claim President Trump was reelected.

Trump — who lost both the popular and electoral college vote to President-elect Joe Biden — has continued to dispute the results, without evidence, and is encouraging his supporters to attend the rallies.

8:35 p.m.
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Federal judge rejects latest effort by Trump allies to overturn election results, saying lawsuit ‘would be risible were its target not so grave'

A federal judge rejected yet another attempt by allies of President Trump to overturn the November election results on Monday, saying the lawsuit “would be risible were its target not so grave” and suggesting he will consider asking for disciplinary action for the lawyers involved.

More than 90 judges have rejected efforts by Trump or his allies to overturn the November vote. In Michigan, the city of Detroit has asked another judge to consider disciplinary action against Sidney Powell, a lawyer who has represented plaintiffs in a number of suits.

The latest suit was file Dec. 22 by the Amistad Project, a conservative group that had already filed and lost a number of lawsuits targeting the vote in various states. This last-ditch effort was filed against Vice President Pence, both houses of Congress, the leaders of five states and the electoral college — a body that does not exist as a permanent entity — and argued that the Constitution requires that state legislatures alone certify presidential electors. It asked a federal judge in D.C. to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory when it meets to read the electoral college votes on Wednesday.

In a seven-page opinion, District Court Judge James Boasberg rejected the effort, citing a series of fatal flaws with the suit. The plaintiffs, he wrote, had filed in the wrong court, did not have standing to sue and had made no effort to serve their opponents with the suit, a legal requirement to move the process forward.

More importantly, he wrote, “the suit rests on a fundamental and obvious misreading of the Constitution.”

“It would be risible were its target not so grave: the undermining of a democratic election for President of the United States,” he wrote.

He wrote that their central contention — that only state legislatures can certify presidential electors — was “flat out wrong” and would require him to ignore decades of precedent and Supreme Court decisions to overturn a number of state laws.

“Plaintiffs’ theory that all of these laws are unconstitutional and that the Court should instead require state legislatures themselves to certify every Presidential election lies somewhere between a willful misreading of the Constitution and fantasy,” he wrote.

He added, however, that the plaintiffs’ failure to even try to serve the many parties they had sued made it difficult of him to believe the lawsuit was intended to be taken seriously.

“Courts are not instruments through which parties engage in such gamesmanship or symbolic political gestures,” he wrote, adding that he was contemplating referring the case to the court’s Committee on Grievances “for potential discipline of Plaintiffs’ counsel.”

Erick G. Kaardal, the Minneapolis-based lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of the group, did not respond to a request for comment.