Washington girded for the volatile final act of the Trump presidency on Wednesday, as President Trump — unwilling to cede the limelight or his fantasy of victory — transforming a moment of Democratic triumph into a day of defiance by summoning supporters to his backyard for an airing of grievances.
“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,” Mr. Trump told a gathering of die-hard fans at the Ellipse behind the White House on Wednesday — essentially foreclosing any possibility he might opt for a conventional path from power.
In a fitting bookend of his presidency filled with bravado and falsehood, Mr. Trump spoke at length about the size of the crowd gathered to greet him — much as he obsessed over the turnout of his inauguration four years ago.
And he continued to keep up his pressure on his own vice president, Mike Pence, who has rebuffed his attempts to block the certification in Congress of President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s election on Wednesday in his role as the Senate’s presiding officer.
“I just spoke to Mike,” he told the crowd. “I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”
On Tuesday night, Mr. Trump watched from the White House residence, according to aides, as the Rev. Raphael Warnock claimed victory and Jon Ossoff led in the Georgia runoff elections on Tuesday night, smarting over a report that Mr. Pence told him that he had no authority to intervene and reverse the election results.
On Wednesday, he seemed to concede that the Republican Senate candidates had lost, telling his supporters “they never had a shot.”
The Georgia results, if their trajectory holds, would deliver to Mr. Biden control of both chambers of Congress, a staggering loss many Republicans blame on the president’s tardy and tepid efforts on behalf of the incumbents in the runoff election.
Unable to win his race — and unwilling to set aside his personal grudges for his party’s greater good — Mr. Trump has chosen, as he often has when cornered, to distract, disrupt and upstage his opponents.
Mr. Trump’s rally may overlap with a gathering of greater importance at the eastern end of the National Mall. The House and Senate will convene Wednesday afternoon for a remarkable joint session to formalize Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory, as Trump allies plot to hijack what is typically a mundane, ceremonial exercise into a last stand — a move opposed by a growing number of their fellow Republicans and doomed to failure.
Bipartisan majorities in both chambers are prepared to meet late into the night to beat back the challenges and confirm Mr. Biden as the winner. But by using the proceeding as a forum for trying to subvert a democratic election, Mr. Trump and his allies are going where no party has since the Reconstruction era of the 19th century, when Congress bargained over the presidency.
Under a dreary winter sky, defiant but downbeat Trump supporters began gathering in downtown Washington on Wednesday morning to celebrate a defeated Republican president who suffered a final humiliation in the Georgia Senate runoffs with one declared Democratic victory and the second race with the Democratic candidate maintaining his lead.
Crowds of supporters holding Trump flags marched down the streets of Washington to the elliptical park just behind the White House, where President Trump was set to speak in the late morning from a large grandstand that had been erected. As Congress prepared to conduct the final count of Electoral College votes, the scene outside the walls of Capitol Hill this week reflected the desperation within a White House resisting the transition of power.
“Some of the people here, maybe they’re willing to say Trump lost if things don’t go the way we want them to today,” said Kevin Malone, 43, who drove from Rome, Ga., through the night with two friends, arriving in D.C. looking like they had not slept. “That’s not us. We can’t lose this country. If the Democrats win, there’s not going to be another fair, legal election in this country. We won’t have a democracy.”
He said he and his friends from Northwest Georgia, now represented by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon-supporter, were on the fence about coming but decided to leave shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday when it “started looking like the Democrats were going to steal another election.”
Some of the more than 300 National Guard troops called up for the week stood in camouflage by white vans on Wednesday morning. Rows of local police were stationed on Black Lives Matter Plaza, in front of Lafayette Square after scuffles broke out Tuesday night between pro-Trump demonstrators and local police who deployed pepper spray to quell the unrest.
Tensions briefly rose at the plaza Wednesday around 10:45 a.m. Eastern as a counter-protester standing near police barricades waved for Trump supporters to move along while shouting, “Goodbye, thanks for visiting!” One man in a group of about a half dozen Trump supporters shouted back “Oh, don’t worry. We’ll be back.”
By Tuesday night, the Metropolitan Police Department recorded arrests of five people on charges of assault and weapons possession, including one person who was charged with assaulting a police officer.
Mr. Trump’s false claims of election fraud and promotion of the rallies on Wednesday have encouraged some of his more staunch allies and supporters to travel the country for Wednesday’s rally. The White House had hoped for 30,000 people but aides feared the turnout may be far smaller.
The Trump faithful tried to stay upbeat.
“We are considering this a day that will change history,” said Kevin Haag, 67, who drove about nine hours from his home in Lake Santeetlah, N.C. on Tuesday to participate in the rally. “We are excited.”
He said the road from North Carolina to Washington was dotted with cars and trucks flying Trump flags and American flags, a sign, he said, that the rally would be well-attended. The lobby of his hotel was filled with rally goers, including Proud Boys, with “their Kevlar and boots have a whole belt full of tasers and you name it,” he said.
But he was not necessarily optimistic that Mr. Trump or his Republican allies would prevail in their efforts to overturn the election. Instead, Mr. Haag said he was hopeful that he and his friends would get some kind of closure on Wednesday. He had planned to come with a number of people, but some had to work, and others said they were worried about what might happen in Washington. His wife stayed home with a migraine. In the end there were only three of them that made the trip.
“I think the truth will be made known,” he said. “Even if the truth is, the election went the other way,” he said, meaning if Mr. Trump had lost, “we have to hear that. If it’s over, it’s over.”
Senator Kelly Loeffler’s stinging loss in Georgia trained increased scrutiny on the prominent role she planned to play on Wednesday in seeking to overturn President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in her home state when Congress meets to formalize his Electoral College win.
Ms. Loeffler had announced on Monday, ahead of a pair of high-stakes Georgia runoffs that will determine Senate control, that she was planning to join the small group of senators lodging objections, and a person familiar with her thinking said Tuesday that she would “likely” focus on Georgia. But with the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, declared the winner by The Associated Press, Ms. Loeffler found herself in an awkward position: a lame duck senator contemplating a starring role in a politically fraught fight for a president who clearly lost.
Her promise to object may have helped gin up turnout among the president’s loyal supporters in Georgia, but it does little for Ms. Loeffler now that the election has passed. In a speech to supporters late Tuesday night, she did not concede and said she still planned to travel to Washington to contest Mr. Trump’s loss.
“In the morning, in fact, I’m going to be headed to Washington, D.C., to keep fighting,” she said. “We’re going to fight for this president, so I am asking for every single Georgian, every single American: Stay in the fight with us.”
A spokesman for the senator did not respond to questions on Wednesday morning seeking to clarify her position.
Other senators could still join House members to object to Georgia’s electors, but so far, few senators have been willing to raise their hands for a job their own Republican leaders have warned will dangerously divide the party and embarrass the Senate.
If Georgia’s results go unchallenged, it could speed up the counting process by three to four hours.
Despite her loss, Ms. Loeffler remains a senator until the race is certified and Mr. Warnock is sworn in because of election law governing special elections in Georgia. Her fellow Republican, Senator David Perdue, who was trailing his Democratic opponent in a runoff for a regularly scheduled election, already had to forfeit his seat when his term expired last week.
Democrats exulted on Wednesday morning as they appeared poised to wrest control of the Senate, a feat that would hand them unified control of Congress — albeit by razor-thin margins — as well as the White House.
With the Rev. Raphael Warnock victorious and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff leading in a pair of runoff elections in Georgia, the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, proclaimed on Twitter: “Buckle up!”
“We sure did not take the most direct path to get here, but here we are,” Mr. Schumer said at a celebratory news conference in the Capitol. “For the first time in six years, Democrats will operate a majority in the United States Senate — and that will be very good for the American people.”
Should Mr. Ossoff’s lead over David Perdue hold, twin victories in Georgia would give Democrats 50 seats in the Senate and leave Republicans with the same number, handing Democrats a working majority because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be empowered to break ties.
Mr. Schumer told reporters that he had already spoke to Mr. Biden and Congress’s first order of business would be approve $2,000 direct payments to sent to Americans struggling in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. But he declined to clarify whether Democrats would approve just the checks or seek a large package including other priorities like state and local aid or increased unemployment insurance.
On a conference call with Democrats, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, played the Ray Charles hit “Georgia on My Mind” for ebullient colleagues as they contemplated what their newfound power on the other side of the Capitol would mean as Joseph R. Biden Jr. assumes the presidency.
“We will pursue a science and values-based plan to crush the virus and deliver relief to struggling families, safeguard the right to quality affordable health care and launch a plan to build back better powered by fair economic growth,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
The Georgia victories would be a strong rebuke of President Trump, under whose leadership Republicans lost control of the House, the White House and now the Senate.
“It turns out that telling the voters that the election is rigged is not a great way to turn out your voters,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and his party’s former nominee for president, told reporters in the Capitol. “President Trump has disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system and has disgraced the office of the presidency.”
Some of Democrats’ most ambitious priorities could be blocked, however, by the legislative filibuster, which sets a 60-vote threshold for any major initiative. Mr. Schumer batted away questions about a push from the party’s left flank to change the rules to essentially kill the filibuster by lowering the threshold to a simple majority.
“We are united in wanting big, bold change, and we are going to sit down as a caucus and discuss the best ways to get that done,” he said.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Tuesday promoted the Senate runoffs in Georgia as an opportunity “to break the gridlock that has gripped Washington,” and his team was cautiously optimistic about the outcome.
In recent days many on his team had downplayed the idea that they would command a legislative majority in the Senate — out of superstition, several jittery Democratic aides suggested in the days leading up to the election.
But the growing possibility of one-party control has now been hurled on their doorstep.
In the most basic sense, the addition of two Democrats — the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who has won his race, and Jon Ossoff, who is maintaining a lead in his — to the Senate would redefine Mr. Biden’s approach to lawmaking, giving him more power but possibly challenging his preferred approach of broad bipartisan deal-making.
“Biden will say all the public things about how he needs to get Republican support, but the truth is that this fundamentally changes the dynamic,” said David Krone, former chief of staff to former Senator Harry Reid, the last Democratic majority leader. “Democrats now control the floor. So he can bring up all kinds of bills that would have been blocked by the Republicans, and force votes on big bills — like a major infrastructure package — that never would have seen the light of day.”
During the primaries and general election, Mr. Biden and his aides pointed out that he had developed a sturdy, if not overly warm, working partnership with the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell. But a Senate takeover might require a shift in Mr. Biden’s compromising approach in favor of the hard-edge tactics demanded by his party’s ascendant left wing.
Embedded in the Democrats’ jubilation Wednesday was a gnawing sense of urgency.
Many in the party fear a Republican takeover of the House in 2022, and a similar possibility looms in the deadlocked upper chamber. But many in Mr. Biden’s circle believe he has two years to jam through Democratic priorities, starting with his pledge to pass a $2,000 payout to ease the economic hardship of the pandemic.
Controlling the majority offers many new opportunities. The central role of Black voters in Georgia and elsewhere virtually ensures that Mr. Biden will push civil and voting rights reform, one Democratic leadership aide said in condition of anonymity. But it also means he will have to referee fierce disagreements among Democratic factions that have already begun feuding in the House over the Green New Deal and expansion of health care.
Then there’s Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
While all eyes were on the twilight machinations of Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, his replacement will have significantly more power.
She will play a decisive role in the 50-50 Senate on party-line votes, exercising real legislative power and positioning her as Mr. Biden’s visible partner and natural successor, especially if he chooses not to run for re-election in 2024.
Congress anxiously prepared for a marathon session on Wednesday to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College victory, after Republican loyalists to President Trump confirmed they would object to the results of at least three battleground states the Democrat won.
Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama planned to object to the certification of Arizona’s electors; Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia intended to object to those from her state; and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri planned to object to Pennsylvania’s slate, according to people familiar with their plans.
Their challenges were all but certain to fail amid bipartisan opposition. But their decision to join House Republicans in seeking to overturn the election ensured that Congress would be thrust into a caustic debate over the results and Mr. Trump’s repeatedly debunked claims of widespread fraud and irregularities that could last nine hours or more.
It will culminate in at least three votes that have already badly divided the Republican Party, forcing lawmakers to go on the record either siding with the president or upholding the results of a democratic election.
Lawmakers anticipated possible objections for up to three additional states — Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin — although it was not clear whether they would draw the requisite backing from a member of both the House and the Senate to be considered.
Even before it began, the session was already driving sharp wedges into the Republican Party that threatened to do lasting damage to its cohesion, as lawmakers decided to cast their lot with Mr. Trump or the Constitution. Top party leaders in the House and Senate appeared to be headed for a high-profile split. And while only a dozen or so senators were expected to vote to reject the outcome in key states, as many as 70 percent of House Republicans could join the effort, stoking the dangerous belief of tens of millions of voters that Mr. Biden was elected illegitimately.
At the White House, Mr. Trump continued an extraordinary pressure campaign on Vice President Mike Pence, who will oversee the joint session as president of the Senate, urging him to move unilaterally to reject electors from battleground states that he lost. The president wrote on Twitter that Mr. Pence had “the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”
Under the Constitution and the statute governing the counting, he does not. In any case, all 50 states have properly certified their electors as legitimate.
On Wednesday, Mr. Biden addressed the certification in a statement.
“After the past four years, after the election, and after today’s election certification proceedings on the Hill, it’s time to turn the page,” he said. “The American people demand action and they want unity. I am more optimistic than I ever have been that we can deliver both.”
Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did, people briefed on the conversation said.
Mr. Pence’s message, delivered during his weekly lunch with the president, came hours after Mr. Trump further turned up the public pressure on the vice president to do his bidding when Congress convenes Wednesday in a joint session to ratify Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning, an inaccurate assertion that mischaracterized Mr. Pence’s largely formal and constitutionally prescribed role of presiding over the House and Senate as they receive and certify the electoral votes conveyed by the states and announcing the outcome.
Mr. Pence does not have the unilateral power to alter the results sent by the states to Congress.
More Republican senators came out on Tuesday against attempts to undermine the results, including Tim Scott of South Carolina and James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who said he viewed challenging any state’s certification as “a violation of my oath of office.”
In a process that is likely to go on for many hours, Mr. Pence will preside on Wednesday over a roll call of the states. If at least one senator and one House member object to the results from a state, they can force a debate of up to two hours about those results. Each chamber will then vote separately on whether to certify that state’s results.
For results to be overturned, both the House and the Senate would have to agree to do so. Because the House is controlled by the Democrats, there is no realistic possibility of any state’s outcome being rejected. In addition, many if not most Senate Republicans appear likely to join all Democrats in rejecting challenges to the results.
When the results from all of the states have been considered, Mr. Pence, who as vice president also serves as presiding officer of the Senate, will be called on to read out the Electoral College votes for each candidate, formalizing Mr. Biden’s victory.
Mr. Pence has spent the past several days in a delicate dance, seeking at once to convey to the president that he does not have the authority to overturn the results of the election, while also placating the president to avoid a rift that could torpedo any hopes Mr. Pence has of running in 2024 as Mr. Trump’s loyal heir.
Even as he sought to make clear that he does not have the power Mr. Trump seems to think he has, Mr. Pence also indicated to the president that he would keep studying the issue up until the final hours before the joint session of Congress begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to the people briefed on their conversation.
While Democrats celebrated the election of the Rev. Raphael Warnock to the Senate, Georgia’s second Senate runoff race — which will determine which party will control the Senate — remained too close to call on Wednesday. The Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, was leading his Republican challenger, David Perdue, by thousands of votes with thousands more that still need to be counted, many of them from Democratic-leaning areas.
After trading leads earlier in the evening, Mr. Ossoff pulled ahead of Mr. Perdue overnight, but by just 0.4 percent — within the range that could trigger a recount. By 4 a.m. Wednesday, an estimated 98 percent of votes had been counted. Georgia elections officials said they expected to complete the count by noon on Wednesday.
Even so, Mr. Ossoff, a 33-year-old documentary film executive, declared himself the winner Wednesday morning in a video posted on Twitter. The Associated Press has not yet called the race. The news organization called Mr. Warnock’s victory over the Republican incumbent, Kelly Loeffler, early Wednesday.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday congratulated Mr. Warnock and said he was hopeful that Mr. Ossoff would prevail when the vote count is complete.
“Georgia’s voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: They want action on the crises we face and they want it right now,” Mr. Biden said in a statement release Wednesday morning. “I congratulate the people of Georgia, who turned out in record numbers once again, just as they did in November.”
By Wednesday morning, the largest bloc of uncounted ballots in the state was the in-person vote in DeKalb County, a heavily Democratic area that includes part of Atlanta.
Mr. Ossoff’s campaign manager Ellen Foster said in a statement on Wednesday that she expected Mr. Ossoff to win. “The outstanding vote is squarely in parts of the state where Jon’s performance has been dominant,” she said.
Mr. Perdue’s campaign officials said in an early Wednesday statement that the race was “exceptionally close,” but said they believed Mr. Perdue would win and would use “every available resource and exhaust every recourse to ensure all legally cast ballots are properly counted.”
It could be some time before there is a call in the race, with thousands of late absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted. Under Georgia law, a candidate can request a recount if the margin of victory is less than half a percentage point.
Democrats benefited from a strong turnout among Black voters. According to data compiled by georgiavotes.com, Black voters made up a larger share of early voters for the runoff — nearly 31 percent — than they did in the general election, when it was closer to 28 percent.
Mr. Warnock, who is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the South. He and Mr. Ossoff ran in tandem throughout the runoffs.
Mr. Perdue, the former chief executive of Dollar General, and Ms. Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate a year ago and was seeking a full term, had cast the race as a necessary check on Democratic power in Washington in 2021, though these efforts have been complicated by President Trump’s continued insistence, without evidence, that he won re-election.
A few days before the inauguration, no one knew who would actually take the oath of office as president of the United States. There were cries of fraud and chicanery as a divided, surly nation continued to debate the winner of the election many weeks after the ballots had been cast.
The election of 1876 was the most disputed in American history and in some ways among the most consequential. As Congress convenes on Wednesday to formalize President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory and dispense with Republican objections, many on Capitol Hill and beyond have been looking to the showdown nearly a century and a half ago for clues on how to resolve the latest clash for power.
The players in that drama have faded into obscurity. Few today remember the story of Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican who ultimately prevailed and served four years as a tainted president. Fewer still can name his Democratic opponent, Samuel Tilden, who lost the White House despite garnering more votes. But the system that will govern the debate on Wednesday was fashioned from that episode, and the standards that were set then are now cited as arguments in the effort to overturn President Trump’s defeat.
Allies of Mr. Trump, led by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, have latched onto the resolution of the 1876 dispute as a model, proposing that Congress once again create a 15-member commission to decide the validity of various states’ electors. “We should follow that precedent,” Mr. Cruz and 10 other new or returning Republican senators wrote in a joint statement over the weekend.
But there are also profound differences between that battle and this one. For one, the candidate claiming to be aggrieved this time, Mr. Trump, is the incumbent president with the power of the federal government at his disposal. For another, Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud have proved baseless, universally rejected by Republican and Democratic state election authorities, judges across the ideological spectrum and even by his own attorney general.
Still, Hayes, who was called “His Fraudulency” and “Rutherfraud B. Hayes,” never shed the stigma and did not seek another term. Congress, for its part, resolved never to go through that ordeal again. In 1887, it passed a law setting out the procedures for counting electors, rules that have proved durable ever since. On Wednesday, they will be tested as never before.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to deliver a speech on the economy on Wednesday afternoon, remarks that could take on greater significance given the chance that the Senate will soon be controlled by Democrats.
Mr. Biden’s speech is expected to emphasize several of his economic priorities, including reiterating his call for another round of financial aid to help people, businesses and state and local governments weather ongoing economic pain from the virus. Mr. Biden is also expected to touch on his “Build Back Better” agenda, including new government spending on clean energy, infrastructure, health care and education.
His remarks will focus in particular on small businesses, particularly those run by Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans, “who need additional resources to reopen and rebuild,” a transition spokesman said.
Mr. Biden’s speech will take place at a critical moment, as Congress moves ahead to certify the results of the 2020 vote and as a pair of Senate elections in Georgia appear headed for a Democratic win.
The president-elect’s ability to push through many of the programs and polices he campaigned on appeared more likely on Wednesday, as Democrats edged closer to gaining two Senate seats after Tuesday’s runoff election in Georgia. The Rev. Raphael Warnock was declared the winner of one seat, defeating Republican Kelly Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff, another Democrat, was leading the race against David Perdue.
If Democrats win both seats, it would give Mr. Biden’s party control of an evenly divided chamber, greatly affecting his ability to fulfill his agenda.
“Georgia’s voters delivered a resounding message yesterday: they want action on the crises we face and they want it right now,” Mr. Biden said in a written statement on Wednesday morning. “On Covid-19, on economic relief, on climate, on racial justice, on voting rights and so much more. They want us to move, but move together.”
“I have long said that the bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill passed in December was just a down payment. We need urgent action on what comes next, because the COVID-19 crisis hits red states and blue states alike,” he said.
As Congress meets on Wednesday to certify Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the November election, President Trump and his supporters continue to spread rumors, conspiracy theories and misinformation about the vote.
Here are six false voter fraud claims that may be repeated during the proceedings on Wednesday.
No, ‘glitches’ in Dominion Voting Machines did not change vote tallies.
Claim: Dominion Voting Systems, which makes software that local governments around the nation use to help run their elections, deleted votes for President Trump.
Fact: There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, including the machines with Dominion software, according to the federal agency that oversees election security.
Background: In the weeks after the election, President Trump and his supporters spread baseless claims about Dominion. The claims included theories that “software glitches” changed vote tallies in several states, including Michigan and Georgia. No such changes were ever found.
Mr. Trump and his supporters subsequently claimed that Dominion had hidden evidence of voter fraud, both by destroying machines or removing parts within the machines. Mr. Trump repeated those claims during a call with Georgia’s secretary of state last weekend. Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia, said Monday of the claims of election fraud in the state, “This is all easily, provably false.”
No, politicians in Georgia did not prevent an analysis of absentee ballots.
Claim: President Trump and his supporters have claimed that absentee ballots in Georgia were rife with fraud and that state officials have not fully investigated.
Fact: Election officials have audited absentee ballots and found “no fraudulent absentee ballots.”
Background: The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, ordered law enforcement and election investigators to conduct an audit of more than 15,000 absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County, based on a complaint that signatures were not adequately checked there. The audit found no fraud. Mr. Raffensperger has said that he also plans a statewide audit of each county’s signature-match policies and procedures.
Georgia has already conducted two recounts, both by hand and machine, of all five million ballots cast in the state. No voting fraud was found.
No, thousands of votes in Arizona were not changed to favor Biden.
Claim: In an interview on the conservative cable channel Newsmax in December, the Arizona Republican chairwoman, Kelli Ward, said 200,000 ballots were digitally changed to give the victory to Mr. Biden, and Representative Paul Gosar amplified the falsehood on Twitter.
Fact: Audits in Arizona have found no evidence of voter fraud, or changed vote tallies.
Background: While early results in Arizona showed a close race, the final count revealed that Mr. Biden had won the state by more than 10,000 votes.
Audits in Arizona’s four largest counties, which make up 86 percent of all votes in the state, turned up no evidence of systematic voter fraud.
No, election workers didn’t stuff fraudulent ballots into suitcases.
Claim: President Trump’s supporters have pointed to a video as proof that ballots were pulled from a “suitcase” at a vote-counting center in Atlanta.
Fact: Election officials have said the surveillance video shows normal ballot processing. It is not unusual practice for poll workers to store ballots that still need to be counted on-site at the polling center.
Background: As reported by The New York Times, late on Nov. 3, election workers in Fulton County, Ga., heard that they would be allowed to stop the vote-counting and retire for the evening. So they packed uncounted ballots into suitcases and prepared to lock up. When word came that they couldn’t leave yet, they dragged the suitcases back out and began counting the ballots again.
But that scene of election workers taking out suitcases of ballots was selectively edited and pushed by allies of President Trump as one of the many false theories purportedly proving widespread election fraud. The conspiracists also named the election worker Ruby Freeman as a specific player in this false conspiracy event.
No, there isn’t evidence that Pennsylvania election officials violated state law.
Claim: President Trump’s campaign has claimed that Pennsylvania election officials improperly handled tens of thousands of mail-in ballots in violation of state election law.
Fact: The Trump campaign’s legal efforts to disqualify votes in Pennsylvania have been unsupported by evidence.
Background: The Trump campaign filed several claims in court seeking to invalidate Pennsylvania’s election results, and one ally of Mr. Trump, Senator Josh Hawley, has said he would challenge the results because he believed “some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.”
But the Trump campaign has included no evidence that any vote had been cast illegally.
In a hearing on Nov. 17, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, acknowledged he had no proof to back up his claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. “This is not a fraud case,” Mr. Giuliani said.
Four days later, the judge overseeing the case dismissed the lawsuit. It was also shot down last month by Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, who said in a ruling, “Calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”
No, Pence does not have the power to change the election result.
Claim: Vice President Mike Pence can reject state electors in the Electoral College.
Fact: Federal law stipulates that the vice president’s role is to count Electoral College votes, not decide whether they are valid.
Background: President Trump on Tuesday falsely claimed on Twitter that Mr. Pence has the power to reject electors when the Electoral College vote is certified.
As president of the Senate, Mr. Pence is expected to preside over the pro forma certification of the Electoral College vote count in front of a joint session of Congress. The only electoral certifications available for Vice President Pence to preside over are the ones approved by each state.
Ben Decker and Jacob Silver contributed research.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to nominate Judge Merrick Garland, whose Supreme Court nomination Republicans blocked in 2016, to be attorney general, placing the task of repairing a beleaguered Justice Department in the hands of a centrist judge, according to a person familiar with the matter.
If confirmed, Judge Garland, who has sometimes disappointed liberals with his rulings, would inherit a department that grew more politicized under President Trump than at any point since Watergate. Judge Garland will face vexing decisions about civil rights issues that roiled the country this year, whether to investigate Mr. Trump and his administration and how to proceed with a tax investigation into Mr. Biden’s son.
The nomination ended weeks of deliberation by Mr. Biden, who had struggled to make a decision as he considered who to fill for a position that he became convinced would play an outsized role in his presidency. Mr. Biden’s nominations are expected to broadly win confirmation as Democrats appear poised to take control of the Senate.
Mr. Biden, who served as the longtime top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and chaired it from 1987 to 1995, was said by aides to have long weighed what makes a successful attorney general and put pressure on himself to make the right pick. Outside groups also pressed him during the transition to appoint someone who is a minority and would take a far more confrontational position with law enforcement.
Mr. Biden also intends to nominate Lisa Monaco, a former homeland security adviser to President Barack Obama, as deputy attorney general; Vanita Gupta, the head of the department’s civil rights division under Mr. Obama, as the No. 3; and Kristen Clarke, a civil rights lawyer, as assistant attorney general for civil rights, which is expected to be a major focus of the department under Mr. Biden.
Judge Garland was initially considered a long shot for attorney general, in part because he is seen as politically moderate. In close cases involving criminal law, he has been significantly more likely to side with the police and prosecutors over people accused of crimes than other Democratic appointees. He also leaned toward deferring to the government in Guantánamo detainee cases that pit state security powers against individual rights.
Moreover, judges are only occasionally elevated directly to the position. The last was Judge Michael Mukasey of Federal District Court, whom George W. Bush appointed to run the Justice Department in 2007.
Mr. Biden was also said to have considered Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general in the final years of the Obama administration; Doug Jones, the former Alabama senator; and Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts who briefly ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.