Biden and Harris to Address Economic Recovery

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are set to deliver speeches on Monday on the slowing American economic recovery, amid the crosswinds of rising coronavirus deaths and soaring optimism over a vaccine.

Ahead of the remarks, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris spoke with business and union leaders to discuss the recovery, including Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors; Sonia Syngal, the chief executive of Gap; and Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft. The union leaders will include Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO and Rory Gamble, president of the United Auto Workers.

“To state the obvious, we seem to be turning a pretty dark corner now,” Mr. Biden said at the briefing, according to a pool report distributed by the campaign.

Noting that there are differing views about how to revive the economy, he added: “We all agree on the common goals, just have a slightly different perspective.”

Mr. Biden’s speech is expected to focus on the need to contain the virus in order to get the economy back on track, as well as ensuring that workers and businesses can operate safely. His remarks will touch on broad themes about the nation’s economic health and his plans for improving growth and equality in the short and long term.

His speech comes at a perilous moment for the recovery from the pandemic recession.

Credit card data and other indicators suggest consumers began to pull back spending this month as infection, hospitalization and death rates from the virus surge nationwide. States have begun to impose new restrictions on economic activity in an effort to tamp down the spread.

But stock markets were soaring again on Monday, encouraged by news that Moderna’s vaccine for the virus appears to be highly effective. Still, widespread distribution of a vaccine that would allow Americans to resume anything close to normal levels of travel, dining out and other types of spending on services that have been crushed by the pandemic is likely months away. Economists continue to call for a new and immediate round of aid from Congress to help people and businesses weather the difficult time before the rebound is complete.

Mr. Biden’s first economic test will be navigating the politics of that aid package: whether to push his party to cut a deal with Republicans for a limited rescue bill this fall, before he takes office, or to hold out for a larger package after he is president.

Credit…Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

The plaintiffs in four federal lawsuits around the country challenging the integrity of the presidential election all filed notice Monday morning that they were dropping their cases.

In a coordinated move, the filings — in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — came in rapid succession within less than an hour.

The cases were similarly structured: All had been filed by ordinary voters who claimed that the certification of the vote in key counties in their states should be halted because of election improprieties.

Each of them was overseen by James Bopp Jr., a conservative lawyer and former top official at the Republican National Committee. In a brief interview on Monday, Mr. Bopp declined to comment on the suits, saying that he did not want to telegraph his strategy if he ultimately chose to file more cases.

The notices of dismissal were brief and perfunctory, giving no reasons for dropping the cases.

Neither the Trump campaign nor Republican officials were parties in these particular suits, though President Trump has urged his supporters to challenge an election that he has repeatedly claimed, without substantial evidence, was the result of widespread fraud.

The campaign, Republican organizations and individual voters have cumulatively filed nearly two dozen suits in at least seven states that have failed so far to stop either the counting of votes or the certification of results. But the barrage of legal action challenging President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory is not over.

Federal suits are still working their way through courts in Michigan, in Georgia and in Pennsylvania, where a judge in Williamsport is expected to hold a hearing on Tuesday. The Trump campaign also filed an appeal on Monday of a state court suit it lost in Michigan last week. And Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, who is leading the postelection legal battle, has promised further suits.

Late Sunday night, a lawyer for the Trump campaign filed a new version of the Pennsylvania suit, cutting from it one of Mr. Trump’s loudest and most persistent accusations: that Republican poll observers in the state were not given adequate access to monitor voting and vote-counting.

Lawyers for the Democratic Party have repeatedly argued that poll observers in Pennsylvania and other states have had adequate and equal access to counting process.

While the suit still mentions the alleged problems with observers in its introduction, they are no longer included among the formal counts in the complaint, meaning the campaign no longer has to provide evidence that those accusations are true.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, said in remarks aired on Monday that Mr. Trump appeared to have lost the election, and he said there would be “a very professional transition” from his staff.

“Look, if the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — and obviously things look that way now — we’ll have a very professional transition from the National Security Council,” Mr. O’Brien said.

His remarks may be the most conciliatory public assessment from a senior member of the Trump White House, even as the president maintains his baseless claims that he was the true winner of an election riddled with fraud. But even Mr. O’Brien spoke conditionally, suggesting that the outcome was not certain.

“If there is a new administration, they deserve some time to come in and implement their policies,” Mr. O’Brien said during a talk recorded last week and streamed on Monday as part of a conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And if we are in a situation where we are not going into a Trump second term, which I think people where I’m sitting in the White House would like to see, if it’s another outcome, it will be a professional transition — there’s no question about it,” he said.

Mr. O’Brien seemed to suggest that it was not too late to implement a smooth handoff, citing the weekslong delay after the disputed 2000 presidential election. “I’m old enough to remember Bush v. Gore, and the transition there didn’t start until mid-December, and yet it got done,” he said.

But the special commission formed by Congress to study the roots of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks specifically criticized that delay, finding that the 36-day holdup to the transition that year “hampered the new administration in identifying, recruiting, clearing, and obtaining Senate confirmation of key appointees.”

Aides and advisers to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. are also frustrated that Mr. Trump has made major personnel changes to the country’s national security leadership since the election, including the firing of Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and the installation of several loyalists — some with thin resumes relative to their new posts — at key positions at the Department of Defense and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Credit…John Amis/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

ATLANTA — Roughly two-thirds of the 5 million ballots cast in Georgia’s presidential race have been recounted by hand as of Monday morning, with local elections officials reporting few problems and Democrats saying that the recount so far has not substantially changed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s lead over President Trump.

Over the weekend, election officials said that roughly 50 of the state’s 159 counties had finished their recounts. All must complete recounting by Wednesday night.

Election officials declined Monday to release the results from individual counties. But Patrick Moore, a lawyer for Mr. Biden, said that Democrats had been keeping tabs on the county results and that only minor discrepancies had turned up.

“As expected, the counties that have completed their audit thus far have shifted vote totals, but almost imperceptibly, and thus far in favor of Joe Biden,” Mr. Moore said on Monday.

The New York Times declared Mr. Biden the winner of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes on Friday, joining a number of major news organizations. In the first round of counting, Mr. Biden outpolled Mr. Trump by more than 14,000 votes.

Even though it was the Trump campaign that had demanded that Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state and a Republican, order a recount (Mr. Raffensperger’s office says the process is technically an “audit”), Mr. Trump disparaged the process over the weekend, writing on Twitter, “Their recount is a scam, means nothing.”

Mr. Raffensperger has said repeatedly that the election in Georgia was legitimate. A spokesperson for Representative Doug Collins, the Georgia Republican who is leading the Trump campaign’s recount efforts, could not be reached.

Fulton County, which is Georgia’s most populous and includes most of Atlanta, reported that it had completed its recount Sunday. Officials noted few problems as hundreds of workers in Atlanta’s downtown convention center plowed through more than half a million ballots.

In suburban Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta, a county spokesman, Ross Cavitt, said that most ballots had been recounted and that officials had found “nothing that indicates there’s going be a substantial change in the results.”

The state must certify its overall results, reflecting any changes resulting from the recount, by Nov. 20.

After that, Georgia law enables the second-place finisher to request another recount if the difference in the vote totals is within half a percentage point. Mr. Trump, trailing by about 0.3 percent, is currently within that margin. The second recount would be entail running ballots through scanners, not hand counting.

Mr. Biden was the first Democrat since 1992 to win Georgia, and it was one of five states won by Mr. Trump in 2016 that Mr. Biden flipped. The outcome of the recount will have no bearing on his victory; Mr. Biden has earned 306 electoral votes, well over the 270 he needed to become president-elect.

Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Reflecting the importance of the January runoffs in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will most likely campaign in the state before he takes office and funnel personnel and resources into the Democratic campaigns there, a top official said on Sunday.

“You’ll see the president-elect campaign down there as we get closer to Election Day,” Ron Klain, whom Mr. Biden tapped as his chief of staff last week, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’re going to put people, money, resources down there to help our two good candidates win. I’m very hopeful that we can win those seats.”

If the Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, unseat both Republican incumbents, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, and hand Democrats de facto control of the Senate, it will be far easier for Mr. Biden to enact his policy agenda on the coronavirus, health care, taxes, the environment and other issues.

The Democratic Senate candidates themselves took slightly different approaches to discussing the implications of the race on Sunday.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Warnock sought to downplay the national significance of the races. Instead, he stressed the vast wealth of his opponent, Ms. Loeffler; his own experience as the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once led; and health care, the issue Democrats put at the center of most of their congressional campaigns this year.

“This race is not about me — and Chuck Schumer’s name is certainly not on the ballot,” he said, referring to the Senate Democratic leader who would take control if Democrats snatched up both Georgia seats. “I’ll tell you what is on the ballot. Health care is on the ballot. Access to affordable health care.”

Mr. Ossoff, the other Democratic candidate, eagerly outlined the sweeping implications of the contests in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” declaring, “With Trump departing, we have the opportunity to define the next chapter in American history, to lead out of this crisis — but only by winning these Senate seats.”

Mr. Warnock and Mr. Ossoff are working closely together, too. But the differences in how they are talking about the race stood out as Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler campaign as a packaged ticket, reading from the same carefully coordinated playbook that warns that Democratic victories would alter the course of the country in dangerous ways.

“We are the last line of defense against this liberal socialist agenda that the Democrats will perpetrate,” Mr. Perdue said on Fox News. “We heard Schumer say just last week, ‘If we take Georgia, we change America.’”

Mr. Perdue has said he will not participate in a debate with Mr. Ossoff that had been planned for Dec. 6 by the Atlanta Press Club, just weeks after he withdrew from another debate against the Democrat in the days leading up to the election. At their only face-to-face debate, in late October, Mr. Ossoff slammed the incumbent over his stock transactions, calling him a “crook” as the senator gazed uncomfortably into the camera.

Georgia’s Senate battles come as Republican infighting over Mr. Biden’s narrow win over President Trump in the state — and a hand recount of the results expected to be completed this week — intensified.

Writing on his official Facebook page Sunday, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, shot back at Mr. Trump over a tweet in which the president claimed that absentee ballots were prone to fraud. Mr. Raffensperger ridiculed the president’s top defender in the state, Representative Doug Collins, for suggesting the signature validation system implemented by his office was inadequate.

“Failed candidate Doug Collins is a liar — but what’s new?” wrote Mr. Raffensperger, referring to Mr. Collins’s third-place finish in the contest that sent Ms. Loeffler and Mr. Warnock to a runoff.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

When President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. assumes the White House, repairing what has become a toxic relationship with China, the world’s second largest economy, will need to be a top priority.

The hard choices for Mr. Biden will include deciding whether to maintain about $360 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports that have raised costs for American businesses and consumers, or whether to relax those levies in exchange for concessions on economic issuesor on other fronts like climate change.

But Mr. Biden will need to walk a careful line. He and his advisers view many of President Trump’s measures, which were aimed at severing ties between the Chinese and American economies, as clumsy, costly and unstrategic. Mr. Trump placed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of products from China, imposed sanctions on Chinese companies and restricted Chinese businesses from buying American technology — a multiyear onslaught aimed at forcing Beijing to change its trade practices and as punishment for its authoritarian ways.

And Mr. Trump shows no sign of letting up in his final days in office: On Thursday, he issued an executive order barring investments in Chinese firms with military ties.

Biden advisers say they want to take a smarter approach that combines working with the Chinese on some issues like global warming and the pandemic, while competing with them on technological leadership and confronting them on other issues like military expansionism, human rights violations or unfair trade.

But even if it departs from Mr. Trump’s punishing approach, the Biden administration will be eager to maintain leverage over China to accomplish its own policy goals. And the new administration will face pressure from lawmakers in both parties who view China as a national security threat and have introduced legislation aimed at penalizing Beijing for its human rights abuses, global influence operations and economic practices.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Like President Bill Clinton, Joseph R. Biden Jr. is an empathetic extrovert with a sprawling network of friends. Like President George W. Bush, he respects American political traditions, and with President Barack Obama, he shares eight years of history, experiences and some Washington battle scars.

But when Mr. Biden enters the White House in January, after four turbulent years of the Trump presidency and what is shaping up to be a chaotic transition period, he will bring with him his own set of instincts.

He has honed the ways he operates in Washington over 36 years as a senator and eight years as vice president. Based on his actions and attitudes throughout his most recent 18 months as a presidential candidate, here are four key elements of how Mr. Biden may approach governing come January, 48 years after he first arrived in Washington.

He consults experts, elected officials and his inner circle.

Mr. Biden relied this year on a blend of expert opinion and conversations with elected officials across the country as he formulated his plans to confront the extraordinary public health and economic crises at hand.

He can be loose with deadlines.

At key points throughout the campaign, Mr. Biden wanted to take in as much information as possible and missed self-imposed deadlines on, for example, naming a running mate. Mr. Biden ultimately is decisive, his allies argue, saying that he is not the kind of person to second-guess or to walk back a promise once he has arrived at a deal in a negotiation. But on major political and personnel decisions, at least, he has demonstrated that he cannot be rushed.

He’s a man of the Senate at heart.

His experience in the Senate defined his political outlook — one that prizes consensus, civility and bipartisanship as essential to at least some progress — and helps explain why he will enter the White House with great respect for Congress.

Joe Biden has a mandate to be Joe Biden.

After four years of President Trump in the White House, Mr. Biden promises, in many respects, a return to the past norms and traditions that have typically defined the office, whether that’s embracing the traditional role of serving as consoler in chief in times of tragedy or refusing to use Twitter to deliver messages to the American people.

Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Jay Clayton, the former corporate lawyer who led the Securities and Exchange Commission during the Trump administration, will step down by the end of the year, he announced on Monday. The move was first reported in the DealBook newsletter.

In nearly four years as chairman, Mr. Clayton largely lived up to the pledge he delivered in his first speech on the job, forgoing “wholesale changes to the commission’s fundamental regulatory approach.” He presided over a regime largely free of drama or major changes at the agency — aside from a prominent battle with Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk.

When he was chosen to head the S.E.C. in 2017, few expected Mr. Clayton to make waves. He had spent decades as a lawyer at the white-shoe law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, working with clients like Alibaba, Barclays and Goldman Sachs. His nomination by President Trump to fill a term that expires in June 2021 was somewhat of a surprise, given that Mr. Clayton had been known for being largely apolitical.

His focus at the agency was protecting “the long-term interests of the Main Street investor,” he said. That approach surfaced in moves like stopping the car-rental company Hertz from selling stock while in bankruptcy protection and cracking down on cryptocurrency frauds.

He also expressed skepticism about the transparency of disclosures for special purpose acquisition companies, the blank-check investment funds known as SPACs that have become hot on Wall Street, echoing concerns that they may hurt ordinary investors at the expense of the savvy deal makers running them.

Critics contended that Mr. Clayton was too soft on business. But during his tenure, the commission pursued 3,152 enforcement cases, slightly more than the number brought by his predecessor, Mary Jo White, from 2013 to 2017, and also obtained orders for larger financial remedies than under the previous chief. That said, NPR reported that the S.E.C. brought just 32 insider-trading enforcement actions last year, the fewest since 1996.

The S.E.C.’s most prominent battle came when it sued Tesla in 2018 over Mr. Musk’s tweets about taking the carmaker private. It resulted in Mr. Musk stepping down as chairman and paying a $20 million fine. That same year, the commission accused Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, of lying about her company’s blood-testing capabilities. It extracted a $500,000 settlement and barred her from serving as an executive or director of a public company for a decade, though the agency did not require her to admit guilt.

Mr. Clayton followed in the steps of many Republican leaders of the S.E.C. in pursuing deregulation. Under his watch, the commission loosened rules governing the independence of corporate auditors, adopted a conduct standard for brokers that consumer advocates argue weakened protections and proposed making most hedge funds exempt from publicly disclosing their stock holdings, generating widespread opposition.

One of the most memorable moments of Mr. Clayton’s tenure had to do with a different government post. Earlier this year, he told Attorney General Bill Barr that he was interested in becoming the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, despite having never been a litigator. After Geoffrey Berman was fired from the post, a political firestorm effectively forced Mr. Clayton to back off.

It is unclear what Mr. Clayton plans to do next, though he is unlikely to take up another corporate role in the near term. Like other financial agencies, the commission is expected to get tougher on big business under President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Credit…Bridget Bennett for The New York Times

The counties won by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. experienced worse job losses, on average, during the initial wave of pandemic layoffs than the counties where President Trump was strongest in his bid for re-election.

After the worst of the downturn in April, many of the most affected red counties recovered far more swiftly than blue counties did. By September, as unemployment fell nearly everywhere, blue counties were more likely to have higher unemployment rates.

The economy is usually a big issue in election battles, and this election season saw both historically low levels of unemployment before the pandemic and later the worst rates of job loss since the Great Depression.

Mr. Trump’s supporters said consistently as the election approached that the health of the economy was important to them. In exit polls conducted by Edison Research, among those who said the economy mattered the most across a range of issues, 83 percent voted for Mr. Trump, compared with only 17 percent who supported Mr. Biden.

This gap in unemployment between Trump and Biden counties plays out on a state level as well, and has persisted even after many people returned to work.

Research has shown that Democratic areas, which tend to be more urban and have higher concentrations of service jobs, were particularly devastated by the economic fallout early in the pandemic. Many of these blue-leaning areas, including Clark County, Nev., home to Las Vegas, rely on tourism. Miami-Dade County, Fla., is another blue county where the disappearance of tourists damaged the economy.

In states such as Alabama and Mississippi, blue-leaning counties also have higher concentrations of Black residents — a group that has been disproportionately vulnerable to job loss and has lagged behind white workers during the economic crisis.

This pattern, however, does not hold true in every part of the country. The state with the highest county unemployment rates in April was Michigan, with one out of every three residents in some counties out of work. Several of the worst-hit counties in Michigan went on to vote for President Trump.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Even as more top Republicans urged President Trump on Sunday to allow for an orderly presidential transition, the president himself, after briefly appearing to acknowledge his election loss, resumed spreading the kinds of baseless accusations of election fraud that his supporters have embraced.

Though his tweet on Sunday that Joseph R. Biden Jr. “won because the Election was Rigged” at least appeared to recognize Mr. Biden’s victory (though Mr. Trump vowed not to concede), by Monday morning, he had resumed his former refrain, tweeting, “I won the Election!” His campaign’s lawsuits, built around claims that, among other things, Republican poll watchers were not allowed to observe ballot counting and that tabulation machines were tainted, have been mostly rejected in court.

John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, on Sunday joined the chorus of Republicans urging Mr. Trump to accept defeat, warning on ABC’s “This Week” of the threat to the country if the president made “life as difficult as he can” for the incoming administration and calling the Trump team’s litigation “the legal equivalent of pitching pennies.”

“I think it’s very important for leaders of the Republican Party to explain to our voters — who are not as stupid as the Democrats think — that, in fact, Trump has lost the election and that his claims of election fraud are baseless,” Mr. Bolton said.

Another former Trump national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, said on CNN on Sunday of Mr. Trump’s claim of a rigged election, “It’s just wrong, it’s regrettable, it’s counterproductive.”

Some Republican governors have also acknowledged the need for a smooth transition.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas stated that Mr. Biden should have access to intelligence briefings and stressed the need for a smooth transition of power for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, while also acknowledging that there was “a process” to accepting the outcome of the election, including the ongoing recount in Georgia.

Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a supporter of Mr. Trump, told CNN on Sunday that it was “important for a normal transition” to the next presidential administration to begin, saying, “We have to have faith in our judicial system, faith in our electoral system.”

While he voiced support for Mr. Trump’s various legal challenges to the election, he said, “On the other hand, it’s clear that, certainly based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect.”

Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters are just as adamant as the president himself in refusing to accept the results of the election. Thousands of them rallied behind him in Washington on Saturday. They were met with counterprotests, and violence ensued Saturday night as the police made 21 arrests and one person was stabbed.