Bill Chizek/iStockBy LIBBY CATHEY, LAUREN KING and ADIA ROBINSON, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President-elect Joe Biden is moving forward with transition plans, capping a tumultuous and tension-filled campaign during a historic pandemic against President Donald Trump, who still refuses to concede the election nearly two weeks after Biden was projected as the winner — and is taking extraordinary moves to challenge the results.
Running out of legal alternatives to override an election loss, Trump has invited Michigan’s top Republican state lawmakers to visit the White House on Friday, as he and allies pursue a pressure campaign to overturn results in a state Biden won by more than 150,000 votes. He’s also scheduled to deliver remarks on prescription drug prices in the afternoon.
Since the election, Trump has held just two public events at which he has spoken, opting instead to largely hunker down inside the White House while his administration stonewalls recognizing Biden as the president-elect.
Despite Trump’s road blocks, Biden is forging ahead and stepping into the presidential spotlight. He and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are scheduled to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday.
Though Trump has alleged widespread voter fraud, he and his campaign haven’t been able to provide the evidence to substantiate their claims with the majority of lawsuits already resulting in unfavorable outcomes.
Here is how the transition is unfolding. All times Eastern:
Nov 20, 6:59 pm
Michigan leaders pledge to ‘follow the normal process’ after White House meeting
After nearly two hours in the White House, a delegation from Michigan, including Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, released a joint statement following the meeting reiterating, “we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors.”
“Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation. Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes,” they said in a statement.
The lawmakers also mentioned their ongoing oversight investigation in the state Senate and House into the elections process is to provide “greater transparency and accountability to our citizens” but added they weren’t aware of any information that would flip the outcome.”
“We have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan and as legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors, just as we have said throughout this election,” they said.
The invitation from Trump, ahead of the state certifying its votes on Monday, seemed squarely aimed as an attempt to influence lawmakers to override certification. This would set up the potential for the GOP-controlled legislature to choose its own slate of pro-Trump electors to vote for the president at the Electoral College’s December meeting.
-ABC News’ Kendall Karson
Nov 20, 6:50 pm
Governor certifies Georgia’s 16 electoral votes for Biden
Gov. Brian Kemp has certified the slate of 16 electors in Georgia for Joe Biden, press secretary Cody Hall confirmed to ABC News, though in brief remarks Friday evening Kemp did not explicitly state that he had.
“Earlier today, Secretary Raffensperger presented — presented the certified results of the 2020 General Election to my office. Following Judge Grimsberg’s ruling yesterday, state law now requires the Governor’s office to formalize the certification, which paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options, and a separate recount if they choose,” Kemp said.
The deadline for the Trump team to request a recount is 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
“As governor I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law. And that is what I will continue to do,” Kemp said at the end of his remarks.
However, Kemp, who served as secretary of state before he was governor, was also critical of the state’s election and the fact that during the audit, thousands of uncounted ballots were discovered, saying Georgians deserve better and will get it ahead of the state’s Senate runoffs in January.
“It’s quite honestly hard to believe that, during the audit, thousands of uncounted ballots were found, weeks after a razor-thin outcome in a presidential election,” he said. “This is simply unacceptable.”
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Nov 20, 5:29 pm
Milwaukee and Dane counties in Wisconsin officially start recount process
Milwaukee and Dane counties, two of the largest and the most Democratic-leaning counties in Wisconsin, began their recount process Friday, as requested by Trump’s campaign.
Both the Milwaukee County Board of Canvassers and the Dane County Board of Canvassers kicked off their respective meetings at 10 a.m. ET, but much of Friday is being used to prepare for the actual recount. The counties will livestream the entire 13-day process from multiple angles.
These two counties both voted overwhelmingly for Biden, with Dane County at 75.5%-22.8% and Milwaukee County 69.1%-29.3%. Milwaukee also has the state’s largest Black population, and the campaign’s targeting of voters for not supplying voter ID is likely to come down squarely on people of color, who are already the most disenfranchised by Wisconsin’s voter ID laws.
he recount will take place in time for the state’s Dec. 1 certification deadline.
Election officials don’t expect the recount to change the results as Biden leads Trump by more than 20,000 votes in the state.
-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett and Soo Rin Kim
Nov 20, 4:56 pm
Georgia secretary of state certifies election results, governor faces deadline to sign off
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has certified the results of the general election Friday, making it official that Biden won the state’s 16 electoral votes.
“The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or our courts, or of either campaigns,” Raffensperger said during a Friday morning news conference.
Following the certification of the results, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp must now “certify the slates of presidential electors receiving the highest number of votes” by 5 p.m. Saturday. While the president has repeatedly tagged Kemp in tweets, including one that said, “Republicans must get tough,” the governor has not given any indication he will not follow through with his part of this process.
With the certification, a two-business-day time period begins for Trump to request a recount, as he’s expected to, since he remains within 0.5% of Biden.
ABC News asked Kemp’s office Friday if the governor will definitely certify the electors by the deadline but has not received a response.
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
Nov 20, 4:16 pm
Michigan lawmakers meet with Trump at the White House
Michigan lawmakers have arrived at the White House and were spotted walking into the West Wing just a couple of minutes before 4 p.m.
Trump is meeting with at least two Republican leaders ahead of the state’s board of canvassers meeting on Monday in an apparent effort to try to influence them to override certification of the state’s vote. This would set up the potential for the GOP-controlled legislature to choose its own slate of pro-Trump electors to vote for the president at the Electoral College’s December meeting.
The prospect of the Michigan legislature intervening in a process that it is not involved in by state law is not one that has been publicly embraced in Lansing or on Capitol Hill.
Bob Bauer, a senior adviser to the Biden team, tore into the idea of Trump’s meeting earlier Friday, slamming it as “pathetic” and “an abuse of office,” but he maintained that “there’s no way whatsoever” Trump will be successful in overturning the election.
Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, who is among those meeting with Trump, tweeted earlier in the day he “won’t apologize” for accepting a meeting with the president, adding that he’s honored to speak with him.
Nov 20, 3:55 pm
Biden, Harris meet with Democratic leadership
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sitting down with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, for their first in-person meeting since the election.
Reporters were briefly allowed into the top of meeting where Biden could be heard telling Pelosi and Schumer about how his team has repurposed various buildings around Wilmington to hold meetings and conduct transition work. He also thanked them for making the trip.
“Thanks for having us,” Schumer could be heard saying in return, while Pelosi said it’s an “honor” to be with him.
Biden also referenced the frosty relationship both Pelosi and Schumer have had with the current occupant of the Oval Office.
“In my Oval Office, — mi casa, you casa,” Biden said. “I’m gonna need you. I hope we’re gonna spend a lot of time together.”
All four wore masks and were socially distanced, seated at a large rectangular table.
Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill earlier in the day they would discuss the lame-duck session and urgency of passing another round of coronavirus relief legislation. She also left the door open for the House of Representatives to intervene in Biden’s transition as the Trump administration blocks it, though she didn’t elaborate on details.
-ABC News’ John Verhovek, Molly Nagle and Beatrice Peterson
Nov 20, 3:21 pm
Trump delivers remarks on drug prices, falsely claims he won election
Trump emerged before cameras on Friday afternoon to deliver remarks on lowering prescription drug prices which quickly unraveled into an attack on big pharmaceutical companies he claimed were working against him and a false declaration that he won the election.
“Big pharma ran million dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign — which I won, by the way, but you know. We will find that out,” Trump said.
Turning to the coronavirus and promising news of vaccines, Trump accused Pfizer of delaying the release of its preliminary vaccine data until after the election as retribution for Trump’s announcement of new rules designed to lower drug prices.
“So they waited and waited and waited and they thought they’d come out with it a few days after the election. And it would probably have had an impact. Who knows? Maybe it wouldn’t have,” Trump said.
He left the event without taking questions from reporters. Since the election, Trump has held just three public events at which he hasn’t taken any questions.
Nov 20, 2:28 pm
McEnany confirms Michigan lawmakers meeting with Trump
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday afternoon, at her first briefing at the White House in 50 days, confirmed that Trump will be meeting with Michigan lawmakers at the White House later in the day.
Asked what Trump plans to discuss with them and whether he will he ask them to have the state legislature appoint electors who will support his reelection, McEnany misleadingly cast the meeting as a routine event.
“So he will be meeting later on. This is not an advocacy meeting. There will be no one from the campaign there. He routinely meets with lawmakers from all across the country,” McEnany said.
The invitation from Trump comes ahead of the state’s board of canvassers meeting on Monday to certify the vote and amid the Trump campaign’s ongoing fight over the outcome of the election, with relentless unsubstantiated claims of fraud and a string of unsuccessful legal challenges to the results.
McEnany, who regularly changes hats between White House press secretary and Trump campaign adviser, deferred to the campaign when asked what the strategy would be to overturn the election but repeatedly referred to “ongoing litigation.”
Notably, the Trump campaign has had just one victory in court so far that still stands out of the 19 lawsuits it has filed since Election Day.
Asked about Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander calling on the Trump administration to at least allow Biden’s team the ability to reach out to agencies and access government data, McEnany cited the Presidential Transition Act in trying to argue that it’s the law — and not the president’s refusal to concede — that is preventing that from happening.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson, Jordyn Phelps and Olivia Rubin
Nov 20, 10:57 am
Michigan’s top GOP lawmakers heading to Washington, DC
After Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on CNN Friday morning that House Speaker Lee Chatfield texted her while she was on air and said he hasn’t confirmed if he will be heading to the White House, a source familiar confirms that he is still going to Washington for an expected meeting with Trump.
“I know both the speaker and the senate majority leader well. They’re folks who do respect the law. They’re folks who is do follow the rule of law. And so, again, you know, I’ll take their public statements for what they are, which is that they’ve said that they stand with the will of the voters,” Benson said.
Amid the confusion over whether the speaker was still going, the Senate Leader was spotted at the airport Friday morning and was met by a few protesters, who were chanting “protect our votes” while holding signs that say, “uphold our democracy,” according to video shot by local reporter Charlie Langton.
During Benson’s interview, asked if she has any concerns about the pressure Trump could put on the two GOP leaders in a one-on-one meeting, she said, “regardless of anyone’s power of persuasion, you can’t persuade away the facts and the truth.”
“It’s very clear that the voters of Michigan have spoken, the election has occurred, the vote has been tabulated and tallied very securely, very accurately. There’s no legal or factual basis to question that. There’s been no irregularities, no widespread fraud, despite significant scrutiny and folks looking for that,” she continued.
She also reiterated again that every county has certified “despite some confusion” — a nod to the back-and-forth in Wayne County.
-ABC News’ Kendall Karson
Nov 20, 10:41 am
Overview: Trump targets Michigan lawmakers to subvert election results
Running out of legal options to override an election loss, Trump is resorting to raw political pressure — using the powers and prestige of the presidency to target battleground states and try to overturn the results of the election.
In an extraordinary last-ditch gambit, Trump has invited Republican members of the Michigan Legislature to the White House Friday, as he attempts to thwart the electoral process in a state Biden won by more than 150,000 votes.
The aim appears to be for Trump to influence the lawmakers ahead of the state’s board of canvassers meeting on Monday so they would try to override the certification of the state’s vote — setting up the potential for the GOP-controlled legislature to choose its own slate of pro-Trump electors to vote for the president at the Electoral College’s December meeting.
The prospect of the Michigan legislature intervening in a process that it is not involved in by state law is not one that has been publicly embraced in Lansing. And on Capitol Hill, at least one Republican is slamming Trump’s decision.
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican who voted to remove Trump from office during his impeachment trial, eviscerated the White House invitation, saying, “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”
Trump is putting similar pressure on Georgia’s GOP Gov. Brian Kemp — who, following a hand-count audit affirming Biden as the winner, now must sign the state’s vote certification by Friday at 5 p.m. — calling on him a tweet to “get tough.” Trump could request a recount in the state, but he still trails Biden by just over 12,000 votes.
The president may try to flip Arizona as well — where the state’s GOP governor has said he wait until the legal challenges play out — but with a string of, so far, unsuccessful legal challenges to the results from and unsubstantiated claims of fraud from the Trump campaign and its allies, there are no viable pathways left for the president.
Trump, who typically relishes in the spotlight, has largely hunkered inside the White House since the election, but he may break his silence on Biden’s transition with a public appearance at 2:30 p.m. to talk prescription drug prices.
Biden, meanwhile, is pressing forward with what he can while the Trump administration continues to stonewall his ascertainment. He’s meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in Wilmington, Delaware, Friday where they’re expected to address Trump and the prospects for passing another COVID-19 relief bill that Biden wants.
It all comes as Senior House Democrats seek to have Emily Murphy, the embattled administrator of the General Services Administration, explain why she’s refused to formally acknowledge Biden apparent victory over Trump — and are demanding a briefing from her by Monday.
Nov 20, 10:18 am
Georgia sec. of state affirms Biden won Georgia, says he’s ‘disappointed’ Trump didn’t win
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger appeared at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta for the first time since he announced the state would conduct a full by hand recount of votes in the presidential race, to affirm that with the audit’s completion, he’s confident Biden has won the state of Georgia.
In brief remarks, Raffensperger said that he’s “disappointed” Trump, whom he said he was a “proud supporter of,” didn’t win in Georgia, but as an engineer, he has to follow the numbers, and he believes the results of this election are correct.
Raffensperger’s deputy, Jordan Fuchs, said that the secretary would certify the results after the press conference and the completion of that would be announced in a press release. The Trump campaign still has until Tuesday to request a recount.
At the top of his remarks, Raffensperger also addressed the anger over the outcome and audit’s process — seen from the president and his Republican allies — who have attacked Raffensperger throughout the process and called him to resign.
“Close margins of voters leads to fights that are as fierce after Election Day as the campaigns before,” he said. “Close elections sow distrust. People feel their side was cheated. We saw this from the Democrats in 2018. And we see this from Republicans today.”
-ABC News’ Quinn Scanlan
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