ATLANTA — Georgia officials on Friday certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state, hours after a staffer mistakenly sent out a statement saying the process had been completed — a surreal last-minute glitch in a critical and closely watched battleground state.
The certification ensured that Mr. Biden would receive the state’s 16 electoral votes and dealt a blow to President Trump’s bid to overturn the vote in a half-dozen battleground states, and with it, the national election that Mr. Biden won decisively.
It was an early milestone in the state-by-state process of finalizing Mr. Biden’s victory, a process that is set to unfold in the coming days as Mr. Trump continues to deny his defeat and cry fraud and his campaign and its surrogates inundate the courts with largely baseless lawsuits that have so far been unsuccessful.
“I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s top election official and a Republican, said at a Friday morning news conference at the state capitol. “I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct.”
The certification followed a hand recount of the state’s five million votes that Mr. Raffensperger ordered after it was requested by the Trump campaign. The recount found that Mr. Biden beat Mr. Trump by more than 12,000 votes.
“Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes,” Mr. Raffensperger said.
The news came several hours after Georgia officials mistakenly made a premature announcement that the certification was complete. “We had a staffer who sent out the wrong press release,” said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state.
The official documentation of Mr. Biden’s triumph in Georgia, a state no Democrat had won in nearly three decades, underscored the resurgent power of the party.
More states that Mr. Trump lost but is contesting are scheduled to certify their results in the coming days, with deadlines on Monday in Michigan and Pennsylvania and on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin.
The certification of the votes in Georgia came amid significant political turmoil and pressure. Mr. Raffensperger was accused of mismanaging the election by fellow Republicans, including the state’s two senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are facing runoff races in January that will determine party control of the Senate. Both are ardent supporters of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Raffensperger has asserted since Election Day that the process he was charged with overseeing was trustworthy. When he ordered the recount the Trump campaign had requested, he said it was part of a “risk-limiting audit” of the votes.
The audit, which spanned six days and involved hundreds of employees, uncovered a number of uncounted ballots in four counties.
It showed that Mr. Biden had defeated Mr. Trump by 12,284 votes, with Mr. Trump gaining 1,872 net votes compared to the initial tally. The newly discovered ballots ate into Mr. Biden’s statewide lead, which stood at 14,156 votes earlier this week.
By law, Mr. Raffensperger was obliged to certify the election results before 5 p.m. on Friday. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, must then certify the results by 5 p.m. on Saturday. (The law states that the governor “shall certify the slates of presidential electors receiving the highest number of votes,” which appears to give him no choice but to choose electors who support Mr. Biden.)
The Trump campaign has one more bite at Georgia’s results: State law allows the loser of an election to request a recount done by high-speed scanning machines if the winner is ahead by less than half a percentage point, as is the case here, with Mr. Biden ahead by 0.25 percent. Mr. Trump will have two business days to request the recount.
The Biden-Harris transition team announced four more staff appointments on Thursday, continuing to plan for a Biden White House even as President Trump pursues groundless efforts to subvert the election results.
Catherine M. Russellwill serve as director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, overseeing White House staffing issues. During the Obama administration, Ms. Russell served as chief of staff to Jill Biden, then the second lady, and was U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department. She has also served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department and as a Senate staffer. She is married to former President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Tom Donilon, who is the brother of Mr. Biden’s chief political strategist, and who may also be in line for an administration appointment.
Taking over the White House Office of Legislative Affairs will be Louisa Terrell, a former special assistant for legislative affairs to Mr. Obama. A longtime former Capitol Hill aide whose jobs included chief of staff to Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, Ms. Terrell has also served an adviser to the Federal Communications Commission chairman. In the private sector, she has been deputy general counsel and head of public affairs at McKinsey & Company and the director of public policy at Facebook.
Dr. Biden’s policy director will be Mala Adiga, who served in a similar role in the Biden-Harris campaign. During the Obama administration, she served as a deputy assistant Secretary of State, as chief of staff in the Office of Global Women’s Issues, and as the director for human rights on the National Security Staff. Ms. Adiga, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, has also served in the Justice Department.
The White House’s social secretary will be Carlos Elizondo, who was the social secretary to the Bidens during the Obama administration. He will be the first Hispanic American to hold the job, which entails planning and managing official White House events, including state dinners. He also managed protocol and special activities for Walt Disney World and has overseen “operations for a private family estate,” the Biden-Harris transition office said in a statement.
The appointments follow several other staff positions announced earlier this week. Mr. Biden has not yet announced any nominees for cabinet positions.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet on Friday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, in what will be their first in-person gathering since the election.
The Biden transition team did not say what the leaders would discuss at the meeting, which will take place in Wilmington, Del. But Ms. Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol Friday they would discuss “the lame duck session, the urgency of crushing the virus and easing the pain for this economic crisis, keeping the government open.”
The meeting comes as the nation continues to be led by a president who refuses to concede the election and is using lawsuits, divisive language and pressure tactics to try to overturn the results.
“Incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions,” Mr. Biden said on Thursday, adding that President Trump would be remembered as “one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history.”
Mr. Biden, Democrats and a small number of Republicans have been urging the president to focus on fighting the surging pandemic and bolstering economic recovery. Democratic lawmakers have also said it is past time for Emily W. Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, to issue a letter of “ascertainment” that would allow Mr. Biden’s transition team to receive funds and other resources to start the transfer of power.
Two of Michigan’s leading Republican lawmakers are headed to the White House on Friday around 4 p.m. to meet with President Trump while his campaign continues its efforts to interfere with the state’s certification process, which is expected to be finalized on Monday.
Details about the meeting remain murky, but here is what we know so far:
Mike Shirkey, the leader of the State Senate, and Lee Chatfield, the speaker of the State House, are headed to the White House. Both men have said they would not interfere with the certification process but created a joint committee to look into alleged reports of irregularities.
At least two other Republican state lawmakers, Tom Barrett, a state senator, and Jason Wentworth, a state representative who will take over as House speaker in January, are also expected to be at the meeting. Mr. Barrett has been a vocal supporter of Mr. Trump and critic of Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat. He has called for an investigation into what he claims are irregularities in the November election before the results are certified.
Notably, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and a Michigan native whom Mr. Trump has pressed repeatedly about the state, will not attend Friday’s meeting.
The state is currently the focus of Mr. Trump’s dubious efforts to give Republican legislatures the reins to appoint pro-Trump electors in states that Mr. Biden won, tipping the Electoral College in the president’s favor when it meets on Dec. 14. Legal experts say the strategy is virtually sure to fail.
It was not immediately clear who would be attending the meeting from Mr. Trump’s staff. But multiple people briefed on the event said the White House Counsel’s Office was not sending anyone to attend, partly because it was not a White House issue.
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the retiring chairman of the Senate’s health committee, on Friday became the most senior Republican to directly call on President Trump to begin the transition process for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Though he stopped short of declaring Mr. Biden the winner and said the president had a right to challenge the results until they were final, Mr. Alexander, a three-term senator, former governor and former secretary of education, said those were not reasons enough to wait to begin a vital process.
“If there is any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on Day 1,” he wrote in a statement. “That especially should be true, for example, on vaccine distribution.”
The statement stood out as most high-ranking Republicans in Congress continued to stay silent on Friday as Mr. Trump and his legal team escalated their attempts to undermine the election results and claim victory for the president.
So far, most of those who have spoken against the president, directly or not, have either been retiring or are longstanding critics, like Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
But on Friday, a few new voices began to chime in.
Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, who was just re-elected, told CNN that she had “great concerns” about what Mr. Trump was doing.
“I think that it’s time to move on,” she said.
Representative Paul Mitchell of Michigan, a retiring Republican, wrote in an op-ed published Thursday night in The Detroit News that Mr. Trump’s “continued refusal to acknowledge the election results risks corroding our democracy by literally hollowing it out.”
And a former senator from Mr. Alexander’s home state, Bob Corker, criticized fellow Republicans for failing to challenge Mr. Trump.
“While the president has the right to legitimate legal challenges, responsible citizens cannot let the reckless actions by him and his legal team stand,” Mr. Corker wrote on Twitter. “Republicans have an obligation when the subject is of such importance to challenge demagoguery and patently false statements.”
Mr. Alexander, in his statement, cited the 2000 recount in Florida in the Bush-Gore presidential race to suggest that the current uncertainty was not without precedent, although Al Gore was never declared the victor.
“My hope is that the loser of this presidential election will follow Al Gore’s example, put the country first, congratulate the winner and help him to a good beginning of the new term,” he wrote.
Bob Bauer, the lawyer overseeing President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s legal fight over the election, lashed out on Friday at President Trump’s attempts to undermine the election, calling his efforts to strong-arm Michigan officials into helping him overturn the state’s results “an abuse of office” and “absolutely appalling.”
But Mr. Bauer added that none of the president’s legal or political efforts to derail Mr. Biden’s victory will succeed. He noted that the Mr. Trump’s legal teams have lost more than two dozen lawsuits since Election Day.
“This kind of pressure, this raw political pressure, is obviously outrageous,” Mr. Bauer said. “But as I said it’s also pathetic because it cannot be successful.”
Mr. Bauer spoke to reporters as Mr. Biden’s transition team attempts to walk a fine line: denouncing the legal and political maneuvers by the sitting president while trying not to give any legitimacy to the sometimes comical activities of Mr. Trump and his lawyers.
“There is harm being done to the democratic process,” Mr. Bauer said. Adding, “There is, however, no chance whatsoever that Donald Trump could be successful in what it is that he is trying to do.”
On Thursday, Mr. Biden suggested that he intended to push ahead with his transition and with planning for a new administration. Mr. Biden said that legal action against the White House would take a long time to resolve in court, but added, “We haven’t ruled it out.” Mr. Bauer on Friday dodged a question on legal action.
The Biden-Harris transition team is moving “full speed ahead,” a spokeswoman told reporters on Friday, even as its concern grows that the delayed presidential transition might have a harmful effect on the nation.
In a virtual briefing, two spokespeople for the transition renewed the team’s pressure on the General Services Administration chief, Emily W. Murphy, to approve paperwork giving President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his staff access to federal resources, data and personnel. Ms. Murphy has declined to do so amid President Trump’s continuing refusal to accept Mr. Biden’s presidential election victory.
“This isn’t a game,” said Yohannes Abraham, a spokesman for the transition. He noted that growing number of business groups and leaders, including the heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, called in recent days for the transition process to begin.
Asked whether the Biden team has had unpublicized contact with Trump administration officials, as some reports have indicated, Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman, said, “We certainly would love to have that engagement.” But she said the transition team “has been very careful, of course, about following those rules and guidelines and we’ll have to abide by that until ascertainment happens.”
Ascertainment is the term applied when the G.S.A. concludes that the election has produced a winner and a transition can begin.
The officials offered no specifics about when the transition might announce further personnel appointments, including Mr. Biden’s first cabinet nominees.
President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history and an even more audacious use of brute political force to gain the White House than when Congress gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency during Reconstruction.
Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding are somewhere between remote and impossible, and a sign of his desperation after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly six million popular votes and counting, as well as a clear Electoral College margin. Yet the fact that Mr. Trump is even trying has set off widespread alarms, not least in Mr. Biden’s camp.
“I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday, before adding, “It’s just outrageous what he’s doing.” Although Mr. Biden dismissed Mr. Trump’s behavior as embarrassing, he acknowledged that “incredibly damaging messages are being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.”
Mr. Trump has only weeks to make his last-ditch effort work: Most of the states he needs to strip Mr. Biden of votes are scheduled to certify their electors by the beginning of next week. The electors cast their ballots on Dec. 14, and Congress opens them in a joint session on Jan. 6.
Even if Mr. Trump somehow pulled it off, there are other safeguards in place to face the challenge, assuming people in power do not simply bend to the president’s will.
The first test will be Michigan, where Mr. Trump is trying to get the State Legislature to overturn Mr. Biden’s 157,000-vote margin of victory. He has taken the extraordinary step of inviting a delegation of state Republican leaders to the White House, hoping to persuade them to ignore the popular vote outcome.
“That’s not going to happen,” Mike Shirkey, the Republican leader of the Michigan State Senate, said on Tuesday. “We are going to follow the law and follow the process.”
Beyond that, Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, could send Congress a competing electoral slate, based on the election vote, arguing that the proper procedures were ignored. That dispute would create just enough confusion, in Mr. Trump’s Hail Mary calculus, that the House and Senate together would have to resolve it in ways untested in modern times.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. promised transgender and gender-nonconforming people in the United States and around the world that he would fight for their dignity and safety, signaling a stark shift in policy between the incoming administration and the Trump White House, which has worked to weaken protections.
“From the moment I am sworn in as president of the United States, know that my administration will see you, listen to you, and fight for not only your safety but also the dignity and justice you have been denied,” Mr. Biden said in a statement recognizing Transgender Day of Remembrance on Friday. Advocacy groups have called on Mr. Biden to name members of the L.B.G.T.Q. community to his administration, including to his cabinet.
Violence against transgender people has long been a problem — one that disproportionately affects Black transgender women — and this year at least 37 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed in the United States, more than the Human Rights Campaign has recorded in any other year.
Glaad, an advocacy group, said Mr. Biden was the first presidential candidate to “acknowledge the epidemic of violence against trans people” in an election-year debate or town hall.
Mr. Biden has said he will work to restore Obama-era protections that President Trump reversed when he took office, including protections for transgender patients against discrimination in health care settings, at homeless shelters and in federal prisons.
Mr. Biden’s embrace of the L.B.G.T.Q. community in 2012 when he was vice president helped push his party to take a stand on the issue of marriage equality. It was a reversal from positions earlier in Mr. Biden’s career when, in the 1990s, he voted for measures that blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages and cut off federal funds to schools that taught the acceptance of homosexuality.
An affidavit filed by President Trump’s legal team intended to prove voter fraud in Michigan apparently used data taken from counties in Minnesota, the latest in a series of embarrassing missteps that have made Mr. Trump’s uphill legal fight even steeper.
As part of the Trump campaign’s effort to discredit the results in battleground states, the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell have made a series of unsubstantiated and outlandish claims that Dominion Voting Systems, which sells voting software to states, electronically erased millions of Trump votes at the secret behest of liberal operatives.
To bolster that claim, they have pointed to areas that had abnormally high turnout rates compared to prior elections, most recently as part of a case filed in Georgia intended to show a nationwide pattern of fraud.
On Wednesday, L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta lawyer working with the team, filed an analysis from Russell Ramsland, a failed Republican congressional candidate and self-proclaimed election fraud expert, purporting to show suspiciously high turnout in blue areas of Michigan.
When the editors of Powerline, a conservative legal website whose contributors hail from Minnesota and other parts of the Upper Midwest, reviewed the nine-page document, they discovered a major problem: Many municipalities cited in the Michigan document — Monticello, Albertville, Lake Lillian, Houston, Brownsville, Runeberg, Wolf Lake, Height of Land, Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Kandiyohi — are located in an entirely different “M” state, Minnesota.
“This is a catastrophic error, the kind of thing that causes a legal position to crash and burn,” wrote John H. Hinderaker, a veteran litigator who believes any incidences of fraud are not on the scale Mr. Trump’s team is claiming.
Mr. Hinderaker surmised the error was the result of mixing up the abbreviations for the two states, “MI” for “MN.”
On Thursday, a federal judge in Georgia rejected Mr. Wood’s attempt to halt certification of Mr. Biden’s victory in the state. On Thursday, Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Trump’s team planned to plow on with its legal challenges in Georgia, even as it withdrew from cases in Michigan and Arizona.
Mr. Wood, Mr. Ramsland and Ms. Powell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A little-known manufacturing executive serving out his final two years as majority leader of Michigan’s Republican-controlled Senate finds himself thrust into the maelstrom of President Trump’s scheme to subvert the election.
On Thursday, Mr. Trump invited the state Senator, Mike Shirkey, to the White House with other Republican lawmakers — at a moment when he seems to be pressuring officials to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s decisive victory in the state by appointing new electors.
Mr. Trump may have a tough sell during the meeting, which is expected to take place on Friday, and also include the Republican speaker of the Michigan House, Lee Chatfield.
Mr. Shirkey has committed to heading a legislative inquiry into “numerous allegations” of election irregularities. But he has balked at overturning the results, and publicly questioned the president for not accepting an official accounting that shows Mr. Biden with a lead of more than 155,000 votes.
Any attempt to persuade state lawmakers to change the election outcome in favor of Mr. Trump is “not going to happen,” he told the nonprofit publication Bridge Michigan on Tuesday before the dramatic 24 hours of back-and-forth actions of a county board charged with certifying the vote in Detroit.
“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” said Mr. Shirkey, who endorsed Ben Carson in the 2016 Republican primary but backed Mr. Trump in the general election. “I do believe there’s reason to go slow and deliberate.”
Mr. Shirkey added that he did not expect any of the Trump campaign’s legal challenges would “ultimately change the results of the election.”
He did not respond to requests for comment, and the White House did not say why he had been summoned.
As a Republican leader in his state, Mr. Shirkey has tried to maintain political equilibrium, opposing efforts by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, to close businesses and schools to fight the pandemic — while resisting efforts to impeach her.
Before being elected to the Senate in 2015, Mr. Shirkey served four years in the Michigan House of Representatives, worked for General Motors, and founded Orbitform, which produces prototypes for manufacturers in the southern part of the state.
He will be forced to retire under the state’s term limits law on Jan. 1, 2023.
In his interview with Bridge Michigan, Mr. Shirkey went farther than most Republicans in accepting Mr. Biden’s win, urging Mr. Trump to begin facilitating the transition.
“I do think that it’s inappropriate for the Trump administration to not start sharing information,” he said.
Mr. Chatfield has been more equivocal, tweeting on Nov. 6 that every “legal vote needs to be counted” and that “whoever gets the most votes will win Michigan! Period. End of story. Then we move on.”
Andrew Giuliani, a White House official and the son of President Trump’s personal lawyer, announced on Twitter on Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He is the latest in a string of administration officials, including Mr. Trump himself, to contract the virus.
“This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I am experiencing mild symptoms, and am following all appropriate protocols, including being in quarantine and conducting contact tracing,” Mr. Giuliani said.
Mr. Giuliani, who is not known to wear a mask at the White House, attended a news conference on Thursday with his father, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who is leading efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The news conference was held in a small room packed with dozens of people at the Republican National Committee in Washington. Three other lawyers that the elder Mr. Giuliani called the president’s “elite strike force” team were also at the lectern: Jenna Ellis, Joseph diGenova and Sidney Powell.
People infected by the coronavirus are thought to be at their most contagious in the two or three days before and after their symptoms start.
On Friday afternoon, Ms. Ellis, who is a senior legal adviser for the Trump campaign, tweeted that she and the elder Mr. Giuliani had tested negative for the virus. The tweet did not disclose the type of tests they had taken or when they had been tested.
“The entire legal team will continue to follow the advice and protocols of our doctors,” Ms. Ellis said in the tweet.
Because the virus may take several days to ratchet up to detectable levels in the body, a test taken very shortly after exposure might not yield an accurate result, and could, for instance, return a negative result, even if the person is already infected.
The elder Mr. Giuliani and the younger Mr. Giuliani had spent most of the week together, according to a person familiar with their interactions, blurring the timeline during which the virus could have hopped from one to the other.
According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposed individuals should complete a 14-day quarantine, regardless of whether they test negative during that window.
Andrew Giuliani is only the latest case in what one White House official not authorized to speak publicly described on Friday as another outbreak at the complex. There are at least four other people who have tested positive in recent days in addition to the younger Mr. Giuliani, said the official.
Those test results have come as the small dining room near the West Wing, often referred to as the Navy Mess, was reopened this week with limited seating, the official said.
“Any positive case is taken seriously,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said Friday. “Contact tracing has been conducted by the White House Medical Unit consistent with C.D.C. guidelines to stop further transmission and appropriate notifications and recommendations have been made.”