Can Biden eke it out today? Will Trump come back?: The latest updates

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 outstanding absentee ballots in each to-be-called state come largely from Democratic-leaning or heavily Democratic areas.

Updated

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign insisted on Friday that the presidential election is “not over,” working to stave off defeat with baseless claims of voter fraud even as Democratic nominee Joe Biden pulled ahead in two states that would hand him the White House.

Entering Friday morning, the former vice president needed to win only one more state of the five that have yet to be called. At about 9 a.m., Biden took the lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, pulling ahead there hours after he similarly grabbed a narrow advantage in Georgia. Biden also leads in Nevada, where he has remained ahead since Election Day.

“This election is not over. The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final,” Trump 2020 general counsel Matt Morgan asserted in a statement.

While Morgan is correct that the counts in each state are not yet final, the outstanding absentee ballots in each to-be-called state come largely from Democratic-leaning or heavily Democratic areas and have generally tilted toward Biden regardless of where they were cast.

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Live Updates: 2020 Elections

Trump won Pennsylvania by 1.2 percentage points in 2016, and the state has been widely viewed in recent months as the potential tipping point in the 2020 race.

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 has 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.

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 expected vote reported.

Trump won Pennsylvania by 1.2 percentage points in 2016, and the state has been widely viewed in recent months as the potential tipping point in the 2020 race.

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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.

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.

Shortly after Biden notched his lead in Georgia on Friday morning, Biden moved ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania, as well, by roughly 5,500 votes.

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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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Mick Mulvaney, the former acting White House chief of staff, predicted Thursday that President Donald Trump would “absolutely” help facilitate a peaceful transition of power if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is ultimately declared the winner of the 2020 election.

“I recommend that he accept a peaceful transition of power, which I think he would do absolutely anyway,” Mulvaney said of Trump in an interview on CNBC.

“Look, the president is a fighter, there’s no question about it, and you’ll see him fighting down to the very last,” Mulvaney added, mentioning Trump’s threat in the hours after Election Day to challenge the race’s results in the Supreme Court.

But “at the end of that process, [if] Joe Biden’s the president, you can absolutely guarantee a peaceful transition of power,” Mulvaney said. “I just hope the same is true on the other side.”

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Facebook and Twitter struggled Wednesday to contain a deluge of false claims from President Donald Trump and his supporters that Democrats were trying to steal the election — sparking criticism from the left that their labels and fact checks weren’t going nearly far enough.

Trump has continued to incorrectly insist that he is the winner of Tuesday’s vote, even though ballots are still being counted in four critical states and it is still unclear who will emerge the victor.

On Wednesday, Trump fired off a series of social media posts questioning the legitimacy of ballots for former Vice President Joe Biden, dubious or outright false claims that in several instances were labeled by Twitter and Facebook . But those messages were still amplified among the president’s stable of right-wing supporters and gained traction with conservative influencers and their followers online.

The intense challenge and scrutiny facing Facebook and Twitter over the president’s false claims illustrates the platforms’ role as indispensable forums for billions of people to express opinions and share information — and the power the companies wield as a result. The social media companies largely operate under rules they set themselves, but those rules have increasingly become divisive.

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Democratic Sen. Gary Peters won reelection in Michigan, defeating Republican challenger John James in one of the nation’s most competitive Senate races.

Despite Joe Biden’s polling lead in the presidential race through the summer and fall, Michigan developed into one of the most hotly contested Senate battlegrounds, with James running again after outperforming expectations and losing by 7 points in 2018 against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. James ran even closer in 2020, with the race taking a day to call after the polls closed.

Both parties spent big in the state, with Peters raising roughly $40 million and James raising about $33 million, in addition to tens of millions of dollars pumped in by super PACs and other outside groups.

James, a Black businessman and Iraq War veteran who graduated from West Point, gained ground in the final months heading into November and was a rare Republican Senate candidate who kept fundraising pace with his opponent.

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Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Michigan, adding its 16 electoral votes to his general election tally four years after Trump painted it red in a narrow, shocking victory.

Michigan’s large population of white and blue-collar voters helped Trump narrowly defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016, by 11,000 votes, but Biden’s higher popularity made the state a heavier lift for Trump in 2020. Biden led in nearly every poll taken of Michigan since he won the Democratic primary there earlier this year, though his final results lagged behind his polling results.

Biden also poured in tens of millions of dollars in advertising, heavily outspending Trump. The Democratic nominee visited the state on Oct. 2, after spending much of the summer in quarantine to avoid the coronavirus, and returned again just before the election to appear alongside former President Barack Obama. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, also stopped in the state on Oct. 25, when she spent much of her time boosting Sen. Gary Peters’ (D-Mich.) reelection bid.

The state was a top destination for both campaigns: Trump also visited Michigan in September and October, holding a two-hour rally just weeks after testing positive for Covid-19. Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. also made speeches in the state last month. But Trump dialed back his ad spending in Michigan in July and didn’t return to the airwaves until late October.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden broke the record for the most number of votes cast for any presidential candidate in history by early Wednesday afternoon.

The Democratic presidential nominee surpassed 70,330,000 votes as of 2:38 p.m., according to The Associated Press. Biden’s total shatters a previous record for the most votes cast for a president set by Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, with nearly 69,500,000 votes, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Votes for Biden represented 50.19 percent of the total number of votes counted so far, with many more expected.

At the same time, total votes for President Donald Trump were 67,538,973, while votes for others reached 2,268,633. Trump and Biden remained locked in close competition to win the Electoral College, with Biden netting 253 votes to Trump’s 214 around 3:15 p.m. A total of 270 are needed to win the presidency.

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Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday renewed calls for Twitter to suspend President Donald Trump’s personal account, which the social media company has taken steps to restrict for spreading a slew of misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the elections.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the House antitrust subcommittee, called for Twitter to step in against Trump for “posting lies and misinformation at a breathtaking clip.” He added, “It is a threat to our democracy and should be suspended until all the votes are counted.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) likewise urged the social media company to “Suspend his account.” Connolly took direct issue with a Trump tweet posted earlier Wednesday that suggested his lead in key states had begun to “magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted.”

Connolly called the post “pure disinformation,” adding “This is America, not Russia.”

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Wisconsin presidential results

Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, flipping the crucial battleground state and its 10 electoral votes back into the Democratic column.

Trump’s victory in the state four years ago was perhaps the most surprising outcome of the 2016 election. No Republican had carried Wisconsin since 1984, and Hillary Clinton didn’t visit the state once during the general election.

Democrats turned their focus to winning it back soon after Trump took office. They awarded their national party convention to Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city. The party also mounted an all-out effort to turn the tide in the 2018 midterms, ousting its longtime nemesis, GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

But 2020 got off to a rocky start. As the coronavirus crisis hit, the convention was first postponed and then largely moved out of Milwaukee, with much of the program emanating from a Los Angeles TV studio or from Wilmington, Del., where Biden and running mate Kamala Harris delivered their acceptance speeches.

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