Here are some details on the reaction to Biden’s win in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations, from Ben Doherty, the Guardian’s Pacific editor:
Joe Biden’s presidential ascension had not even been settled when Fiji’s forthright prime minister was already urging greater US action on climate change from the incoming American leader.
“Congratulations Joe Biden,” Frank Bainimarama tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “Together, we have a planet to save from a climate emergency and a global economy to build back better from Covid-19.”
Bainimarama said the whole world, but particularly the imperilled Pacific, would look to the US for global leadership in addressing the climate crisis.
There are a number of troubling statistics out today on the current state of Covid-19 in the US, the most urgent crisis Biden will inherit. Reuters has published an analysis of where things stand in the worsening pandemic in America, as the country nears 10m cases, becoming the first nation in the world to surpass that figure. Some specifics from the news agency’s report:
- The US has reported about a million cases in the past 10 days, the highest rate of infections since the start of the pandemic.
- The country has reported over 100,000 infections four times in the past week.
- The latest reported seven-day average in the US is more than the combined average for India and France, two of the worst affected countries in Asia and Europe.
- The daily average of reported new deaths in the US account for one in every 11 deaths reported worldwide each day, Reuters found.
- The number of reported deaths across America climbed by more than 1,000 for a fifth consecutive day on Saturday, a trend last seen in mid-August.
- Illinois emerged as the new epicenter in the midwest, and Texas is now the hardest-hit state and first to surpass a million cases in the US.
You can follow our live global coronavirus coverage here:
Trump’s “voter fraud hotline” has been experiencing prank calls from anti-Trump teenagers, as well as disturbing unsolicited adult images, numerous reporters have now confirmed:
Earlier, ABC News reported that the hotline has “turned into a nightmare for some, as staffers, some of whom have contracts that expire in the coming days, have been bombarded with prank calls from people laughing or mocking them over Biden’s win before hanging up”.
The prank calls have also become a popular trend on TikTok.
Biden and Harris are moving ahead with their transition process this week and planning for the start of a new presidency, even as Trump is defying presidential norms and refusing to concede while spreading misinformation.
On Sunday night, they released their first public schedule as “president-elect” and “vice president-elect”, which noted that on Monday, Biden will receive a briefing from his Covid-19 transition team and then deliver public remarks. Here’s what we know so far about what lies ahead in the Biden planning and transition efforts:
- On Monday, Biden is launching a 12-member coronavirus task force, which will be co-chaired by former surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy and former food and drug administration commissioner Dr David Kessler. Yale epidemiologist Dr Marcella Nunez-Smith is also expected to join. The task force will be responsible for executing his promises for tackling Covid-19, which include doubling the number of drive-through testing sites, establishing a US public health job corps to mobilize 100,000 Americans on contact tracing; and ramping up production of masks, face shields and other PPE.
- Biden will be moving forward with efforts to choose the officials who will serve with him in his administration. He has not offered a timeline for cabinet picks, but he and Harris have pledged that his administration leaders will reflect the country, with representation of women and people of color.
The vice-president will lead a coronavirus taskforce meeting tomorrow – the first in weeks after the campaign schedule had halted the meetings, NBC reports:
This meeting will occur the same day that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris plan to unveil their 12-member taskforce to deal with the pandemic, two days after they were declared the winner over Trump.
Earlier today, the president-elect revealed that his Covid group would include the former surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy and the former food and drug administration commissioner Dr David Kessler as co-chairs.
The ongoing and worsening pandemic will be one of the most critical issues in the final months of Trump’s presidency – and one of the most urgent matters after Biden is inaugurated in January.
One obstacle to a smooth transition between Trump and Biden may be Emily Murphy, a little-known Trump appointee who is in charge of the General Services Administration, according to a new story out this evening from the Washington Post:
Murphy is “refusing to sign a letter allowing Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work this week”, the Post reported, noting that her job includes signing “paperwork officially turning over millions of dollars, as well as giving access to government officials, office space and equipment authorized for the taxpayer-funded transition teams of the winner”.
This is a rarely-discussed duty, typically executed without incident in the period after a new president is elected. It’s a formal letter from the federal government acknowledging the winner of the race, separate from the media calls. But the Post found that almost 36 hours after the projection of a Biden win, Murphy had not written the letter, and that the “the Trump administration, in keeping with the president’s failure to concede the election, has no immediate plans to sign one”.
That refusal would lead to the first delay in modern history of a transition process, other than the supreme court dispute in 2000 surrounding the Florida recount, the paper said. A Biden spokesperson told the Post in a statement:
Now that the election has been independently called for Joe Biden, we look forward to the GSA Administrator quickly ascertaining Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the President-elect and Vice President-elect. America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.”
Will Trump continue to hold rallies in the final months of his “lame duck” presidency?
Multiple reports out today suggest that he is considering holding campaign-style rallies centered around potential recount battles and ongoing lawsuits, despite the victory call for Biden-Harris, and the reality that the recounts are not expected to flip any state or change the outcome of the election.
While Trump’s litigation efforts have gotten nowhere so far and have been widely regarded as frivolous and PR stunts, Axios reported this evening that: “Team Trump is ready to announce specific recount teams in key states, and it plans to hold a series of Trump rallies focused on the litigation.”
And CNN’s Jake Tapper reported tonight that Jared Kushner, Rudy Giuliani and Jason Miller are urging Trump to hold recount rallies, while others in his inner circle are encouraging him to think about conceding. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
It’s worth noting that the president remains in charge of handling the US response to coronavirus as the pandemic and devastation is expected to worsen in the final months of his presidency.
Earlier today, the Center for Presidential Transition, a non-partisan group that advises incoming administrations, urged the president to move forward with the traditional transition process.
While the race was called yesterday for Biden after his victory in Pennsylvania, the count is ongoing in a number of states where the margins have been close. Here are where things stand at this moment on Sunday evening:
- In Georgia, Biden is ahead by 10,353 votes.
- In Arizona, Biden is ahead by 16,985 votes.
- In Nevada, Biden is ahead by 34,283 votes.
- In Pennsylvania, Biden is ahead by 43,251 votes.
In Arizona, the AP and Fox News have for days called the race for Biden, though other news outlets have yet to call it, remaining more cautious as Biden’s lead has narrowed, while acknowledging he is favored to win.
Experts say the margins in general appear to be large enough that any recount would make no difference in impacting the final results. And either way, Biden’s electoral college lead does not hinge on one of these states alone.
At the current count, Biden is ahead in the popular vote by 4,424,676 votes.
Trump, it appears, is not making his first public comments on Fox News on the Mark Levin show this evening after all. After the president tweeted, “Will discuss the Mail-In-Ballot Hoax!” at 8pm EST, we and other media assumed he meant he would be discussing the election, which would have been his first appearance since the Biden-Harris victory was called. But after an hour, the president has not appeared.
Instead, Levin continued to spread falsehoods about voter fraud, including with his guest Ken Starr, a member of Trump’s legal team during the impeachment.
As a reminder: there is no evidence of a mail-in-ballot hoax or widespread fraud of any kind. Trump also has no public events scheduled for tomorrow:
Another Republican figure has congratulated Biden and Harris on their victory, instead of boosting Trump’s false claims that the election was “stolen”: Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state in George W Bush’s administration congratulated the Democrats and “the American people who voted in record numbers showing the strength and vibrancy of our democracy”.
Her tweet is not a surprise given that she has been long outspoken against Trump, starting during the 2016 election. Top Republicans have either spread Trump’s baseless claims of widespread vote rigging or said nothing this weekend, with a few moderates sticking with tradition and offering congratulations.
More on the GOP response to the president’s continued falsehoods:
The president continues to promote the false claim that there is voter fraud in the form of dead voters submitting ballots, when there is no evidence this occurs, and officials have directly debunked it.
Citing multiple Trump advisers, Axios reported this evening that “Trump plans to brandish obituaries of people who supposedly voted but are dead … in an effort to prolong his fight against apparent insurmountable election results”. Senator Lindsey Graham and Fox News have also promoted the false conspiracy theory today, and Trump this evening tweeted footage of that interview, which Twitter has once again labeled as “disputed”.
The facts: there has been no evidence of widespread fraud anywhere this election, according to election officials and experts. When it comes to claims of allegedly deceased voters that have gone viral and have been promoted by rightwing figures this past week, there have been a number of mundane explanations.
In some cases, voters with nearly identical names to people who have died are casting ballots. Other times people’s ages appeared inaccurately due to clerical errors with their birth dates. In Michigan, election officials also clarified in a statement that: “Ballots of voters who have died are rejected in Michigan, even if the voter cast an absentee ballot and then died before Election Day. PolitiFact found that claims of dead voters casting ballots have not been substantiated in Detroit, Virginia, Nevada and Wisconsin.
It is unclear if Trump will actually speak on Fox News tonight. Earlier, the president promoted the Mark Levin show at 8pm EST, tweeting, “Will discuss the Mail-In Ballot Hoax!” but now Levin is talking to Ken Starr, who was part of Trump’s legal team during his impeachment.
Levin has been sympathetic to the president’s false and unsubstantiated claims about fraud and the ongoing efforts to undermine the integrity of the election. He has also called for GOP state legislatures to ignore the election results and send electors who will vote for Trump instead of Biden.
The president has presented the counting of mailed ballots received after election day as illegitimate, but in fact that is explicitly allowed in roughly 20 states. The supreme court has also not blocked it.
Twitter’s “disputed” labels are coming quick for Trump’s false and unsubstantiated claims today – the latest added within less than a minute of the inaccurate tweet.
The president tweeted a video of Senator Ted Cruz spreading false and debunked claims about an error in Michigan. The GOP senator falsely suggested that a problem with “election software” led to votes for the president mistakenly going to Biden, when in actuality, there was an “accidental error” by a clerk in election night reporting that did not impact the vote count.
The president is due to speak soon tonight, at 8pm ET on Fox News, his first public remarks since the race was called for Biden.
Good evening – Sam Levin, in Los Angeles here, taking over our live coverage for the rest of the night.
The Trump campaign has announced that congressman Doug Collins, who lost in a special election to Senator Kelly Loeffler, will lead the campaign’s recount team in Georgia, a state where Biden is in the lead, but the results are too close to call.
Collins has been an avid Trump supporter, and has been critical of the media for calling the election on Saturday.
In Georgia, Biden currently leads by 10,353 votes. The secretary of state has said there will be a recount given the thin margin, and the process could take up until the end of the month. Losing candidates are allowed to seek a recount if they lost by less than 0.5% of votes cast.
Collins said in a statement that the campaign was “confident” it will find evidence that “prove that President Trump won Georgia fairly again on his way to re-election as president”. There has been no evidence of widespread fraud in Georgia or elsewhere, and experts have predicted that, despite the thin margin in Georgia, a recount will yield the same result – a Biden win in the historically Republican state. Even if Trump were to win a recount, it would not give him enough votes to win the electoral college.
More from the Guardian on the state of Georgia:
The Center for Presidential Transition, a non-partisan group that advises incoming administrations, has backed Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, even as Donald Trump refuses to accept the results.
“We urge the Trump administration to immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act. This was a hard-fought campaign, but history is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors,” the group wrote in a letter published on Sunday.
The group also praised the Biden-Harris campaign. “We congratulate Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris on their successful and historic campaign for the White House. In our role we have observed the seriousness with which they have taken the transition planning process. They embraced transition planning early, recruited a seasoned and disciplined team and resourced their transition effort commensurate with the challenges that President-elect Biden will face on January 20. While there will be legal disputes requiring adjudication, the outcome is sufficiently clear that the transition process must now begin<” read the letter.
The group includes prominent Republicans, such as George W Bush’s chief of staff, Josh Bolten.
With 97% of votes counted in Arizona, one of the states Biden flipped from Trump this election, the challenger’s lead has grown to 20,102 votes.
For a full rundown of the results of the election so far, take a look at our interactive map:
The Associated Press has reported on Donald Trump’s legal challenges to the results of the presidential election. And AP’s sources admit Republicans don’t think they have much of a chance of winning their cases:
The Trump campaign’s strategy to file a barrage of lawsuits challenging President-elect Joe Biden’s win is more about providing President Donald Trump with an off-ramp for a loss he can’t quite grasp and less about changing the election’s outcome, according to senior officials, campaign aides and allies who spoke to The Associated Press.
Trump has promised legal action in the coming days as he refused to concede his loss to Biden, making an aggressive pitch for donors to help finance any court fight. Trump and his campaign have leveled accusations of large-scale voter fraud in Pennsylvania and other states that broke for Biden, so far without proof.
But proof isn’t really the point, said the people. The AP spoke with 10 Trump senior officials, campaign aides and allies who were not authorized to discuss the subject publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump aides and allies also acknowledged privately the legal fights would at best forestall the inevitable, and some had deep reservations about the president’s attempts to undermine faith in the vote. But they said Trump and a core group of allies were aiming to keep his loyal base of supporters on his side even in defeat.
According to one Republican granted anonymity to discuss the private conversation, Republicans on Capitol Hill were giving Trump the space to consider all legal options, and allowing the process to play out.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has not yet made any public statements – neither congratulating Biden nor joining Trump’s complaints about the results.
“I’m not sure his position would have changed from yesterday – count all the votes, adjudicate all the claims,” said Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist in Kentucky allied with McConnell. “My sense is there’s won’t be any tolerance for beyond what the law allows. There will be tolerance for what the law allows.”
It was a view being echoed by several other Republicans neither supporting or rejecting the outcome.
“Nothing that I’ve seen regarding the election raises a legal issue that could succeed. There is just is nothing there,” said Barry Richard, who represented George W Bush in the 2000 recount in Florida that ended up before the US supreme court. “When these kind of lawsuits are filed it just breeds contempt for the whole legal system.”
Donald Trump refuses to accept Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, but his former chief economic adviser has praised the Biden-Harris campaign.
Gary Cohn, who was Trump’s chief economic adviser from 2017 to 2018, tweeted on Sunday: “Congrats to President-elect @joebiden and Vice President-elect @kamalaharris. I wish them great success in leading our country. With over 145M votes cast, both campaigns should be applauded for getting an unprecedented number of citizens engaged in the democratic process.”
Cohn’s break with Trump is perhaps not a huge surprise. He was a registered Democrat when he served in Trump’s team, and was quoted in Michael Wolff’s expose of the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, as describing the president as “dumb as shit”. In September he told CNBC that he was not sure who he would vote for in the election.