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Georgia Still Certifying Vote for Biden After Premature Announcement
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On Friday, Georgia election officials will certify that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the state’s electoral votes after a hand recount was concluded.CreditCredit…Megan Varner/Getty Images

ATLANTA — Georgia officials are still on track to certify President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state 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.

“We had a staffer who sent out the wrong press release,” said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state. Ms. Fuchs said that her office “absolutely” expected to meet the 5 p.m. deadline for certification.

The certification will ensure that Mr. Biden will receive the state’s 16 electoral votes and deal 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 will be 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 will follow 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.

Mr. Biden’s triumph in Georgia, a state no Democrat had won in nearly three decades, underscores 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 developments in Georgia come 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 is obliged to certify the election results before 5 p.m. on Friday. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, is expected to speak at that time. He 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.

Catherine M. Russell, then an Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, attending a press conference in Tokyo in 2014.
Catherine M. Russell, then an Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, attending a press conference in Tokyo in 2014.Credit…Kyodo/Associated Press

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.

Senator Lamar Alexander, who is retiring, became the most senior Republican to make such remarks.
Senator Lamar Alexander, who is retiring, became the most senior Republican to make such remarks.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

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.

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Bob Bauer, the top election lawyer for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., called President Trump’s attempts to overturn Michigan’s election results “an abuse of office” and “doomed to failure.”CreditCredit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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.

President Trump’s strategy has become clear over two days of increasingly frenetic action by an executive who is weeks away from losing power.
President Trump’s strategy has become clear over two days of increasingly frenetic action by an executive who is weeks away from losing power.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

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.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, will meet in person with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the first time since the election. 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, will meet in person with President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the first time since the election. Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet in person today with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, two Democratic aides said. President Trump is set to have a meeting of his own with two Michigan lawmakers as part of his brazen attempt to upend Mr. Biden’s electoral victory.

The two meetings come 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 Mr. 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 a 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.

Mr. Biden’s and Ms. Harris’s meeting in Wilmington, Del., with Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi will be the first in-person meeting among the leaders since the election. The Biden transition team did not say what they would discuss, but in a call with the two Democratic leaders last week, the president-elect talked about the coronavirus and the economy. The meeting on Friday was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Ms. Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol Friday the Democratic leaders “will be discussing the lame duck session, the urgency of crushing the virus and easing the pain for this economic crisis, keeping the government open.”

Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mike Shirkey, Michigan’s Senate majority leader, and Lee Chatfield, the speaker of the House, who are both Republicans, is scheduled to be held in the White House days before the state certifies Mr. Biden as the winner of its 16 electoral votes.

The meeting comes on the heels of the Georgia secretary of state’s office reaffirming that Mr. Biden had defeated Mr. Trump in the state, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992. Hours before that, a federal judge had rejected a last-minute effort by a supporter of Mr. Trump’s to halt certification of votes in the state.

As the president’s lawsuits to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory in key states continued to fail, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani continued to make baseless claims that the election had been subject to widespread voter fraud.

And even as Mr. Trump’s attempts to subvert the electoral process became more pronounced, many congressional Republicans, with the exception of Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, continued to stand by his side and refuse to acknowledge that he had lost the presidency.

A rally in support of Black transgender women in Brooklyn this summer. “From the moment I am sworn in as president of the United States, know that my administration will see you,” President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday.
A rally in support of Black transgender women in Brooklyn this summer. “From the moment I am sworn in as president of the United States, know that my administration will see you,” President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Friday.Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York 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. Trump’s 2017 ban on transgender people enlisting or serving in the military. could be reversed within 30 days once Mr. Biden takes office, another advocacy group has said.

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.

People lined up to vote in Minneapolis on Election Day. The Trump campaign confused many localities in Minnesota for places in Michigan in a lawsuit.
People lined up to vote in Minneapolis on Election Day. The Trump campaign confused many localities in Minnesota for places in Michigan in a lawsuit.Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

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.

“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” said Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader of the Michigan Senate.
“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” said Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader of the Michigan Senate.Credit…Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press, via Associated Press

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, the son of Rudolph W. Giuliani, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus on Friday. 
Andrew Giuliani, the son of Rudolph W. Giuliani, announced he had tested positive for coronavirus on Friday. Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

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.

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. A spokeswoman for the elder Mr. Giuliani did not immediately respond to a question about whether he tested positive or is in quarantine.

The elder Mr. Giuliani, who was not wearing a mask and was sweating profusely while standing at the podium, made a series of baseless allegations about fraud, for which he provided no evidence. There were dozens of people crammed into the small space where the news conference was held.

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 dining room in the Navy Mess was reopened this week with limited seating, the official said.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said Friday, “Any positive case is taken seriously. 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.”

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