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Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ – michaelnovakhov-sharednewslinks.com: Presidential Transition Highlights: Biden’s Victory Is Certified in Wisconsin and Arizona


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The chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission on Monday certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner in Wisconsin, formalizing his victory in a state President Trump narrowly carried four years ago and undermining the quixotic efforts of Mr. Trump and his supporters to portray his decisive national loss as a matter still under dispute.

During a three-minute teleconference Monday afternoon, Ann Jacobs, the elections commission chairwoman, signed a document that declared Mr. Biden to be the winner.

“I am now signing it as the official state determination of the results of the Nov. 3, 2020, election and the canvass,” Ms. Jacobs said, before holding the document up to the camera broadcasting her online.

The Wisconsin certification came a few hours after Arizona officials formalized Mr. Biden’s even narrower victory there.

Monday’s certifications would be an afterthought in any other year. But in an environment where Mr. Trump’s false claims of massive fraud have created an alternate reality among his die-hard backers — in the West Wing and beyond — the results foreclosed his fanciful final path to victory.

Mr. Trump, buoyed by his legal team and supporters in the conservative media, has held out hope that he could somehow prevail in Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, where Republican officials on Monday firmly refused to challenge Mr. Biden’s win there.

In Arizona, Mr. Biden prevailed by over 10,000 votes, mainly because of his strength in the state’s largest county, Maricopa, which has been trending Democratic in recent elections.

The state will deliver its 11 electoral votes to Mr. Biden when the Electoral College meets next month, a ceremonial conclave that Mr. Trump hopes to flip in his favor despite state laws that forbid electors from defying the will of voters.

The certification in Wisconsin followed the conclusion of recounts, requested and subsidized with $3 million from President Trump’s campaign, in Dane and Milwaukee Counties that resulted in Mr. Biden adding 87 votes to his statewide margin.

Ms. Jacobs, a Milwaukee Democrat, said that certifying the result of the presidential election came at her discretion and that she expected the move to kickstart legal challenges from the Trump campaign.

“The power to do this is vested solely in the chair,” Ms. Jacobs said.

The six-member bipartisan commission is scheduled to meet again Tuesday morning to certify the state’s other election results.

Two weeks ago the Trump campaign requested the recounts in Dane and Milwaukee, the state’s two largest and most Democratic counties, in an effort to build a legal case against Mr. Biden’s statewide victory. Mr. Biden won Wisconsin by 20,565 votes, a margin that was always highly unlikely to be overturned in a recount.

The Trump campaign has argued in its recount petition that all ballots cast at pre-Election Day in-person absentee voting sites should be disqualified because, it claimed incorrectly, those absentee ballots were issued without voters submitting a written application requesting the ballot.

Its argument would have thrown out hundreds of thousands of ballots across Wisconsin, including those cast by prominent Trump supporters, such as several state legislators and one of the president’s lawyers, Jim Troupis, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received on Monday their first full intelligence briefings since the election, transition officials announced.

While typically intelligence briefings for presidents-elect begin soon after the election, presenting the President’s Daily Brief to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris was delayed as the Trump administration put off beginning of the transition.

Mr. Biden received some intelligence briefings during the campaign, but they were mostly focused on foreign threats to the election. The President’s Daily Brief will give Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris a far broader look at national security threats to the United States.

Distribution of the daily brief is at the sole discretion of the president. Shortly after the General Services Administration approved the formal transition process to begin on Nov. 24, the White House approved Mr. Biden receiving the daily brief. The logistics of setting up the classified sessions put off their start until Monday, according to a Trump administration official.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence assigns an individual briefer to every senior official who receives a version of the daily brief. That briefer shapes the presentation to the needs of the senior official, or in this case the incoming president.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris each received in-person briefings from an intelligence official. They will also have access to the briefing itself, a more detailed and extensive classified intelligence document, which is delivered on a secure tablet computer.

Mr. Biden will need to wait until he is in the White House to make big changes to the brief, by setting collection or analytical priorities for the intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, the transition briefings will allow the intelligence agencies to begin to get a sense of the kinds of questions Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris are asking, and what their current foreign policy focus is.

President Trump’s sustained assault on his own party in Georgia, and his repeated claims of election fraud in the state, have intensified worries among Republicans that he could be hurting their ability to win two crucial Senate runoff races next month.

The president has continued to claim without evidence that his loss in the new battleground state was fraudulent, directing his ire in particular at Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both conservative Republicans, whom he has accused of not doing enough to help him overturn the result.

Over the weekend, he escalated his attacks on Mr. Kemp, saying he was “ashamed” to have endorsed him in 2018, and on Monday he called Mr. Kemp “hapless” as he urged him to “overrule his obstinate Republican Secretary of state.’’

Mr. Trump’s broadsides have quietly rattled some Republicans in the state, who fear that concerns about the fairness of the presidential election could depress turnout for the Senate races, which will determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the chamber.

After resisting entreaties to appear in Georgia, the president plans to travel there this weekend, though even some of his own aides remain uncertain whether his anger toward state officials will overshadow any support he may lend the party’s two candidates.

“You can’t say the system is rigged but elect these two senators,” said Eric Johnson, a campaign adviser to Kelly Loeffler, one of the G.O.P. Senate candidates, and a former Republican leader of the Georgia Senate. “At some point he either drops it or he says I want everybody to vote and get their friends to vote so that the margins are so large that they can’t steal it.”

The split signifies both an extraordinary dispute over election integrity within the Republican Party and a preview of the control the president may continue to exert over the conservative base even after he leaves office. As Mr. Trump talks seriously about the possibility of mounting another bid for the White House in 2024, his personal goals may not always align with those of his party — no matter the political stakes.

“I had someone message me just last week saying: ‘Nope, I’m done. Can’t trust the election. Never voting again,’” said Buzz Brockway, a former Republican state representative. “The president has a very dedicated group of supporters who don’t really support the broader Republican Party — they support him.”

A skeptical Supreme Court on Monday reacted with frustration and some confusion to President Trump’s plan to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the calculations used to allocate seats in the House.

While there was some discussion about whether the plan was lawful, the more immediate questions for the justices were where the administration stood in its efforts to identify and count the unauthorized immigrants and what role the court should play if substantial numbers were not identified.

Removing undocumented immigrants from the census would most likely have the effect of shifting congressional seats and federal money to states that are older, whiter and typically more Republican.

But if the Census Bureau cannot provide Mr. Trump with specific information about a large enough number of unauthorized immigrants in the coming weeks, he will not be able to exclude enough of them from the reapportionment to change the way House seats are allocated. That would leave the justices without a concrete dispute to decide.

If there is data to allow Mr. Trump to exclude enough immigrants to change the allocation of House seats, the case would become quite important.

Indeed, if the court rules for the administration on the core question in the case, it would upend a longtime consensus that the government must count all residents of the United States, whatever their immigration status, with the potential to shift political power and federal money from Democratic states to Republican ones.

But there was only limited discussion of that question on Monday, though several justices, including some conservatives, expressed skepticism about the administration’s arguments.

The Constitution requires congressional districts to be apportioned “counting the whole number of persons in each state,” using information from the census. The Trump administration’s new approach sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment.

The case before the court, Trump v. New York, No. 20-366, was brought by two sets of plaintiffs, one a group of state and local governments and the United States Conference of Mayors, and the second a coalition of advocacy groups and other nongovernmental organizations.

A three-judge panel of the Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that the new policy violated federal law. Two other courts have issued similar rulings, while one said the dispute was not ripe for consideration.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. officially named top members of his economic team on Monday, showcasing his commitment to diversity and placing several women in top economic roles.

With the picks, which require Senate confirmation, Mr. Biden is sending a clear message that economic policymaking in his administration will be shaped by liberal thinkers with a strong focus on worker empowerment as a tool for economic growth. They include:

  • Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton labor economist, to run the three-member Council of Economic Advisers. She would be the first Black woman to lead the council. A labor economist, she worked on Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers for two years and at the White House’s National Economic Council during the Clinton administration.

  • Neera Tanden, the chief executive of the Center for American Progress, to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Tanden, who would be the first Indian-American to lead the Office of Management and Budget, has advocated aggressive spending to alleviate economic harm from the pandemic and has dismissed concerns about adding to the deficit at the current moment.

  • Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, as Treasury secretary. Ms. Yellen, who is also a labor economist, was one of the first officials to suggest allowing the labor market to run “hot” — meaning leaving interest rates lower for longer — in order to help lift wages and get more people into jobs.

  • Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey were named to join Ms. Rouse on the Council of Economic Advisers, which is a three-member team that advises the president on economic policy. They both come from a liberal, labor-oriented school of economics that views rising inequality as a threat to the economy and emphasizes government efforts to support and empower workers. Mr. Bernstein was Mr. Biden’s first chief economist when he was vice president. Ms. Boushey was a top policy adviser to Mrs. Clinton in 2016. Both have advocated a large stimulus package to help workers and businesses hurt by the pandemic recession.

  • Adewale Adeyemo, known as Wally, a senior international economic adviser in the Obama administration, as deputy Treasury secretary. An immigrant from Nigeria, he has extensive experience working at the Treasury Department during the Obama administration, when he was a senior adviser and deputy chief of staff.

  • Brian Deese, a former Obama economic aide who helped lead that administration’s efforts to bail out the American automotive industry, has also been selected to lead the National Economic Council, according to three people with knowledge of the selection. Mr. Deese is a veteran of economic policymaking, having served as the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget and the deputy director of the Economic Council under Mr. Obama, as well as a special adviser on climate change.

The appointments could fall short of hopes within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which has been frustrated that their views are not being sufficiently represented in early personnel decisions. In particular, the decision to select Ms. Tanden, a divisive and partisan figure in the party, could culminate in an intraparty fight, as well as a confirmation battle.

Republicans, who are fighting to retain control of the Senate, are unlikely to easily pass Ms. Tanden, who advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Trump.

Mr. Biden’s other picks are expected to be less contentious.

The Justice Department asked a federal judge on Monday to dismiss the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, citing his pardon last week — and making clear that it broadly covered potential legal troubles beyond the charge Mr. Flynn had faced of lying to federal investigators.

“The president’s pardon, which General Flynn has accepted, moots this case,” the Justice Department filing said.

Mr. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations in late 2016, during the Trump presidential transition, with the Russian ambassador to the United States. His original plea deal also covered legal liability for other potential charges related to his work as an unregistered foreign agent of Turkey in 2016.

The filing was accompanied by the text of the pardon itself, which had not previously been released. It was written broadly not only to cover lying to the F.B.I., but to foreclose any legal jeopardy Mr. Flynn might face from a future Justice Department arising from the Turkey matter, his inconsistent statements under oath to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, and any potential perjury or false statements to the team of the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III team or to the grand juries it used.

Andrew Weissmann, a former member of the special counsel team who was not directly involved in prosecuting Mr. Flynn, condemned the Trump administration’s handling of the case after Mr. Mueller’s office shut down.

“Trump issued the pardon only after Barr debased the Department of Justice by filing a disingenuous motion to dismiss,” Mr. Weissmann said. “Sullivan will have the opportunity to weigh in on his view of all this when he grants the motion to dismiss based on the full pardon.”

But the Justice Department filing signaled that under the Trump administration, at least, the Flynn matter is closed.

“No further proceedings are necessary or appropriate, as the court must immediately dismiss the case with prejudice,” it said.

Planning for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s inauguration is intensifying, with his team announcing on Monday the formation of a Presidential Inaugural Committee that will be carefully attuned to the challenge of managing inauguration activities amid a pandemic.

The organization rolled out the names of senior leaders of the committee, as well as a website for the team, on Monday morning. The committee is expected to work with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the announcement said.

The committee will be helmed by Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University, a historically Black school in Mr. Biden’s home state.

“This year’s inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe,” Mr. Allen said in a statement.

Maju Varghese, the chief operating officer on the Biden campaign, will serve as executive director. State