Biden overtakes Trump in Pennsylvania, putting the presidency within reach: The latest updates

Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff are heading to a January runoff in Georgia, after both fell short of a majority in the November vote.

The two runoffs in the state — this race and the special election for the state’s other Senate seat — will decide control of the Senate on Jan. 5. Republicans hold a narrow edge in the race for a majority, but they are currently short, with several races still undecided. With Joe Biden appearing to be on track to win the presidency, victories in both Georgia races would likely hand Democrats control of an evenly split 50-50 Senate.

The dual overtime races will undoubtedly drive national attention and money back into the state over the next two months.

Ossoff, an investigative filmmaker, entered the race against Perdue late last year with unusual name recognition and fundraising ability after narrowly losing the most expensive House race in history in a 2017 special election that became an early Trump-era rallying point for the Democratic Party.

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Live Updates: 2020 Elections

A federal judge refused a request to issue an order that could have delayed Nevada’s election results for days.

Republicans struck out in another election-related lawsuit on Friday as a federal judge refused a request to issue an order that could have delayed Nevada’s election results for days.

Las Vegas-based U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Gordon issued his ruling after hearing arguments Friday that Clark County officials violated state law by using a machine to scan mail-ballot signatures and match them against earlier signatures on file for each voter.

A lawyer for a voter who claims that someone else voted her initial ballot and for two GOP congressional campaigns argued during a two-hour telephone hearing that election officials should be required to stop using the machine and instead compare the signatures manually on every mail ballot.

“Every other county eyeballed it appropriately through the statutes,” said David O’Mara, the Republican lawyer. “They didn’t have the right to do this. … The court needs to protect the integrity of the election.”

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Live Updates: 2020 Election Week

Justice Samuel Alito did not grant a GOP request that those ballots go uncounted, but instead said they could be tallied “if counted separately.”

Republicans in Pennsylvania won an order from the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday evening requiring local officials to separate out late-arriving ballots until the legal controversy over them is resolved.

However, the order from Justice Samuel Alito did not grant a GOP request that those ballots go uncounted. Instead, he said those ballots could be tallied “if counted separately.”

The two-page order was unusual in that it came from Alito alone. Most emergency applications of public significance are addressed by the full court, although particularly urgent matters are sometimes acted on by a single justice while the other justices are later asked to weigh in. Alito followed that latter course, saying he was referring the issue to his colleagues for further action.

Alito’s order in the first voting-related dispute to reach the high court since Election Day also seemed to take a swipe at Pennsylvania officials for not officially notifying the justices that a directive that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar sent out on the issue late last month was updated four days later.

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Demonstrations across the country protesting alleged fraud in this week’s election have ties to major conservative activist groups and MAGA personalities affiliated with President Donald Trump, according to multiple misinformation researchers.

Many of these protests have been organized by prominent, well-funded pro-Trump groups such as Tea Party Patriots, Women for America First, Turning Point USA and Freedom Works USA, according to analyses from several research institutions.

One of the first avenues for organizing, a Facebook group called #StopTheSteal, was created by Amy Kremer, a longtime conservative activist with Tea Party roots and founder of the pro-Trump group Women for America First. The Facebook group collected more than 350,000 members in just over 24 hours before it was banned by the social media company for promoting violence.

The group’s other administrators were even more prominent conservative activists with close ties to Steve Bannon, the former manager of Trump’s 2016 campaign and the ex-chair of the conservative news organization Breitbart, according to data collected by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that tracks online extremism and misinformation.

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Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel did not present concrete examples of alleged voter fraud in her home state of Michigan and elsewhere when pressed by Fox News anchors on Friday, instead urging Americans to “give us time” to produce evidence of irregularities.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s remaining path to victory with Democratic nominee Joe Biden now leading Trump in three key uncalled swing states — any of which could put him over the 270 electoral vote threshold for election — McDaniel urged patience.

“We have seen a lot of irregularities, Bret,” she told anchor Bret Baier, claiming that in Michigan, where the Trump campaign is pushing for a recount, “we’ve been pursuing reports coming in on our hotline, people who were disenfranchised from observing the vote count and some more serious allegations that we’re seeing.”

Pressed for more specifics, McDaniel said she would be holding a news conference later in the day.

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plans to deliver a prime-time speech Friday evening as he stands on the cusp of winning the White House.

The former vice president’s plan to deliver a speech was confirmed by an aide to his campaign.

The White House contest remains uncalled but Biden currently holds leads over President Donald Trump in several outstanding states, including Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. A win in any of those states would make Biden president-elect.

Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, is also expected to speak Friday, the campaign aide said.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Friday that former vice president Joe Biden should have a Cabinet, if he wins the presidency.

Graham, a staunch Trump ally, said during a press call that he would work to find areas of agreement with Biden but emphasized that the election is not yet over.

“When it comes to finding common ground, I will do that,” Graham told reporters. “The vice president deserves a Cabinet. I’ll give him my input about who I could vote for as secretary of state, attorney general … There may be some people that I just can’t vote for because I think they’re unqualified or too extreme.”

While the White House and Senate majority have yet to be called, Biden is within striking distance of winning the presidency after taking a slight lead in Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state that would deliver Biden the White House should he win it. Meanwhile, control of the Senate is up in the air. While Republicans are poised to start the year with a razor-thin majority, the state of Georgia will hold two runoffs on January 5 for its pair of Senate races. If Democrats win both of those seats, they will control the Senate with Biden as president.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that Vice President Joe Biden would win the White House, repeatedly calling him “president-elect” as she discussed the Democratic Party’s agenda next year.

“This morning, it is clear that the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket will win the White House,” Pelosi said in her first press briefing since the Nov. 3 election.

Pelosi spoke to reporters in the Capitol as thousands of votes were still being counted in battleground states. Biden gained the lead Friday morning in Pennsylvania, potentially clinching his path to victory, though Trump has made clear he will pursue legal challenges.

Pelosi said the outcome was “imminent,” and could be declared “momentarily.”

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Georgia’s secretary of state said Friday morning that there will be a recount of the state’s presidential votes, as Joe Biden took a narrow lead of a few hundredths of a percentage point over President Donald Trump.

“With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said at a Friday morning press conference. “Interest in our election obviously goes far beyond Georgia’s borders. The final tally in Georgia at this point has huge implications for the entire country.”

Sixteen electoral votes hang in the balance in Georgia, and as Raffensperger spoke, Biden had a lead of 1,098 out of nearly 5 million cast, with just a small number left to be counted. Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, compared the margin to “less than a small high school.”

There are still 4,169 mail ballots left to be counted in the state, according to Raffensperger’s office, with the majority of those coming in Gwinnett County, in Atlanta’s suburbs.

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Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, insisted Friday that “there will be a peaceful transfer of power” if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is declared the winner of the White House race.

“This is a great country. This is the greatest democracy in the world. And we abide by the rule of law, and so will this president,” Kudlow said in an interview on CNBC. “There are some things to clean up here, and again, it’s not my area of expertise. I’ll leave that discussion to the campaign.”

Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, also sought to reassure the international community as the United States entered its third full day of vote-counting, after a tumultuous week that saw the president launch attacks against the nation’s electoral process and level false allegations of widespread voter fraud.

“We will continue peacefully, as we always do,” Kudlow said. “And I might add, anybody from around the world, offshore watching this, they should know that. That America is the greatest democracy, and we abide by the rule of law.”

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Live Updates: 2020 Election Week

The president, who is on the verge of defeat, is now saying his effort to cast doubt on the results “is no longer about any single election.”

Updated

President Donald Trump on Friday sought to reframe his unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud, proclaiming in a statement that his push to ensure the integrity of this year’s vote “is no longer about any single election.”

He also vowed to pursue a fair and transparent vote counting process “through every aspect of the law,” despite there being no evidence of broad wrongdoing.

The president struck a slightly less combative tone than he has previously this week, ditching his pleas to “stop the count” of ballots as his opponent Joe Biden pulled ahead in two states that would hand him the presidency.

“We believe the American people deserve to have full transparency into all vote counting and election certification, and that this is no longer about any single election,” Trump argued. “This is about the integrity of our entire election process.”

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has moved ahead of President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, a potentially decisive moment in the 2020 White House race.

An infusion of newly counted ballots from the Philadelphia area propelled the former vice president to a lead of roughly 5,500 votes over the Republican incumbent — 49.5-49.4 percent support — with 98 percent of the state’s expected vote tallied.

By noon, Biden had grown his advantage to roughly 9,700 votes.

Prior to the addition of the newly counted votes, Trump maintained a lead over Biden of a little more than 18,000 ballots — 49.6-49.3 percent support — with 97 percent of the vote reported.

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A handful of Republicans are beginning to speak out about President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in the presidential election, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Pat Toomey the latest to bat away Trump’s rhetoric as the presidency slips away from him.

Though generally mild in their criticisms, many top elected officials are refusing to echo Trump’s attacks on the electoral system and mail-in ballots. Trump complained he “won” several swing states in which Biden is leading him on Friday morning, claiming he will take it to the Supreme Court and that “there’s going to be a lot of litigation because we have so much evidence, so much proof.”

“Voter fraud is poison to self-government, so these are major allegations,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). “If the president’s legal team has real evidence, they need to present it immediately to both the public and the courts. In the meantime, all legal votes need to be counted.”

But most of the Republican pushback has come from predictable corners: lawmakers who are retiring, already out of office or have already earned reputations for being Trump critics. And some top Republicans such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have raced to defend Trump, illustrating his tight grip on the party and suggesting a GOP-led intervention isn’t coming anytime soon.

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has overtaken President Donald Trump in Georgia, closing the gap in the traditionally Republican stronghold after two full days of vote-counting.

As of Friday morning, Biden was less than 1,000 votes ahead of Trump, with both candidates resting at 49.4 percent support and 99 percent of expected ballots tallied.

By noon, Biden had widened his lead to roughly 1,500 votes, and state election officials announced there would be a recount.

Georgia’s potential flip from red to blue on the still-fluid 2020 map comes as the nation remains fixed on the state and the two other outstanding battlegrounds that could decide the presidency, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

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Facebook tightened its policies on election-related disinformation Thursday, limiting the reach of live videos and misleading posts in the latest effort by the world’s largest social network to tamp down an onslaught of baseless claims about vote-rigging and premature victory claims.

The move comes as Facebook and other social networks face mounting criticism from the left that they are not doing enough to stop the spread of false claims that could undermine faith in the election and results when they’re declared. Some prominent Democrats have called for the platforms to suspend the account of President Donald Trump, whose posts alleging electoral fraud have received warning labels on both Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook said it will now restrict posts on both Instagram and Facebook that its systems flag as misinformation so that they are seen by fewer users. It also is limiting the distribution of election-related live videos on its Facebook platform.

“As vote counting continues, we are seeing more reports of inaccurate claims about the election,” Facebook said in a statement. “While many of these claims have low engagement on our platform, we are taking additional temporary steps, which we’ve previously discussed, to keep this content from reaching more people.”

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Live Updates: 2020 Elections

The president emerged from his post-election silence to assert, without evidence, that state election officials are rigging vote tallies.

Updated

President Donald Trump on Thursday evening listed a string of unfounded conspiracy theories to accuse state election officials of plotting to steal the election from him.

Taking the White House lectern for his first public address since election night, Trump offered no evidence for his assertions that officials are rigging the tallies or for his characterization of mail-in ballots as somehow illegitimate. The address came as his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, expands his lead to secure the presidency and as Trump’s path to a second term hinges on winning four key states. Those states have yet to finish counting their ballots amid an unprecedented number of mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late — we‘re looking at them very strongly, but a lot of votes came in late.”

State elections officials have resoundingly denied they are counting “illegal votes“ and have assured voters that this year’s election was hardly the chaos many feared due to Covid-19. Despite the occasional technical glitch and extended polling-site hours, there were no reports of major issues or interference. Though counting is taking longer this year, there is no support for the position that mailed-in ballots were part of a mass fraud.

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Live Updates: 2020 Election Week

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said that she hadn’t heard of any instances of election workers in Maricopa County being harmed by the protesters, some of them armed.

Arizona’s secretary of state on Thursday chided protesters who gathered outside of election offices in the state’s largest county, saying the armed demonstrators might be slowing down the vote tally they have been clamoring for.

In an interview with CNN, the Arizona official, Katie Hobbs, said that she hadn’t heard of any instances of election workers in Maricopa County being harmed by the protesters. But “their being there actually is causing delay and disruption and preventing employees from doing their jobs,” she noted.

The protesters who gathered outside the Maricopa elections department on Wednesday night appeared to be proponents of a baseless conspiracy theory known as “SharpieGate,” which falsely asserted that some voters in the county had been given Sharpie pens to mark their ballots, which were in turn unable to be scanned and counted.

Hobbs’ office and Hobbs herself had previously debunked the theory, assuring that ballots filled out with a Sharpie would still be able to be counted.

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Sean Spicer broke from his former boss President Donald Trump and disputed Thursday that there were signs of widespread voter fraud.

“I haven’t seen any evidence of it. And again, I don’t think it helps his case,” said Trump’s first White House press secretary on SiriusXM’s The Dan Abrams Show.

Spicer criticized Trump’s vague accusations of Democrats attempting to steal the election in close battlegrounds without providing any specific examples. He drew parallels to the president’s common blanket criticism of the news media as “fake news” without providing any specific instances of journalists acting unfairly.

“You can’t just throw a term out there without being specific,” Spicer told the show’s guest host, Brian Ross.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday urged calm and patience as election officials across nearly a half-dozen battleground states continue tallying votes to decide the presidency 48 hours after Election Day.

“Democracy sometimes is messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well,” Biden said during brief remarks in Delaware, demanding that “each ballot must be counted,” but reiterating his confidence that the election would eventually be called in his favor.

He and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), continue to “feel very good about where things stand,” Biden said. “We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners.”

Biden has sat on the cusp of winning the requisite 270 Electoral College votes for more than a day now, but vote counting has been slow-going in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina — any of which could hand the presidency to the Democratic nominee.

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Live Updates: 2020 elections

The president’s campaign is engaging in legal warfare as his chances of victory erode.

Updated

President Donald Trump’s barrage of lawsuits related to the 2020 presidential election kicked up considerable dust on Thursday, but delivered his campaign no tangible progress in halting or slowing the slide of vote tallies away from him in key battleground states.

The flurry of litigation yielded a couple of minor victories for the president, as a state judge granted his campaign’s poll watchers closer access to ballot counting in Philadelphia and a federal court judge there brokered a deal that’s likely to let more volunteers from Trump’s campaign observe the process.

Despite mixed results, the court fights seemed to serve their intended purpose of creating an air of legal uncertainty around the election while the president and his advisers scramble to preserve a sense of viability for a reelection bid that is by objective measures growing more remote.

The performative nature of the litigation was evidenced by the campaign’s dispatching some of its most combative surrogates to sites where court fights were underway or threatened.

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